Tuesday, June 30, 2020

As Virus Roars Back, So Do Signs of a New Round of Layoffs

Omar Yeefoon, owner of Shoals Sound & Service vegan restaurant works behind the bar while the eatery is closed Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in Dallas. Yeefoon reopened his Dallas restaurant June 10 to "a pretty good reception," after having been shuttered for three months. The comeback was fleeting. After four days, Yeefoon had to shut down again in the face of a COVID-19 resurgence in Texas and lay off two of the four workers he'd brought back. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The reopening of Tucson’s historic Hotel Congress lasted less than a month.

General manager Todd Hanley on June 4 ended a two-month coronavirus lockdown and reopened the 39-room hotel at half-capacity, along with an adjoining restaurant for outdoor dining. Yet with reported COVID-19 cases spiking across Arizona, Hanley made the painful decision last weekend to give up, for now.

“We are closing everything,” he said. “We are going to live to fight another day.’’

The move means that once again, most of Hanley’s employees will lose their jobs, at least temporarily. Except for roughly a dozen who are needed to maintain the century-old property, more than 50 workers he had recalled will be laid off for a second time.

A resurgence of confirmed COVID cases across the South and West — and the suspension or reversal of re-openings of bars, hotels, restaurants and other businesses — is endangering hopes for an economic rebound in the region and perhaps nationally. At stake are the jobs of millions of people who have clung to hopes that their layoffs from widespread business shutdowns this spring would prove short-lived.

On Thursday, the government is expected to issue another robust monthly jobs report. Economists have forecast that employers added 3 million jobs in June, on top of 2.5 million added in May, clawing back a portion of the record-high 21 million that vanished in April at the height of the viral shutdowns.

Yet any such news might already be outdated: The jobs report won’t fully capture the impact of the COVID upsurge in the South and West and the desperate steps being pursued to try to control it. The re-closings of restaurants and bars, and resulting job cuts, mark an about-face from what appear to have been premature efforts to restart the economy before the pandemic had been contained.

“We’re still in a very deep hole,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at the firm Grant Thornton. “This makes the June employment report backward-looking instead of forward-looking.’’

Eager to jump-start their economies, governors in several states across the Sun Belt had lifted their lockdowns before their states had met reopening guidelines that were set — yet largely shrugged off — by the White House.

Reported infections quickly spiked. From April 9 to June 8, the five-day daily average of confirmed new cases had dropped from 32,150 to below 19,400. Then it began rising again, surging past the April level to nearly 42,100 on Sunday before dipping to 41,000 on Monday. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest that people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

The governors began to backtrack. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last week ordered all bars closed. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey told residents to stay home and declared that the state was “on pause” as the COVID cases stacked up. Florida also banned alcohol consumption at its bars.

Kylie Davis, a 23-year-old bartender in Tampa, Florida, had returned to work May 23 after two months without a job, struggling to collect unemployment benefits from Florida’s backlogged system. The tips, she said, were good.

“People were so understanding,” she said, “that we had been out of work for a while and were extremely generous.”

Yet after a few weeks, Davis was coughing and exhausted and had lost her sense of taste and smell. On June 12, she tested positive for the virus and couldn’t return to work when Florida bars reopened. Neither, it turns out, could many others. As Florida’s reported cases spiked to record highs the past two weeks, with 9,000 cases recorded in one day last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered bars to shut down again.

And just like that, Davis and others found themselves unemployed for the second time this year.

The jarring reversal underscores what many economists had been stressing for months: That the economy and the job market can’t regain their health until business shutdowns have lasted long enough to reduce infections and most Americans feel confident enough to return to restaurants, bars, hotels, shopping malls and airports.

In the meantime, a resurgence of cases and re-closings of businesses is increasingly evident. The data firm Womply found that the proportion of bars that are closed in Texas, Florida, Tennessee and some other states started climbing last week after having declined fairly steadily since April or early May.

In many cases, it seems, customers themselves, rather than government edict, have driven that trend. A study by Austan Goolsbee and Chad Syverson of the University of Chicago found that Americans chose to stay home or avoid crowded stores this spring not so much because authorities told them to as out of fear stemming from reports of COVID deaths. Their study used cellphone data to track consumer traffic.

“It is the virus, not lockdowns, that dictates the course of the economy,” said Yongseok Shin, an economist at Washington University and a research fellow at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. “We cannot have a full economic recovery without reining in the epidemic.

He added:

“We were worried about a second wave in the fall, but it now appears that we may have one very long wave. With the number of new cases high and rising, people will be slow to return to normal activities for fear of infection, and businesses will delay hiring and investment, lockdown or no lockdown.”

Even before Texas’s governor shut down bars in the states again last week, Michael Neff had decided to re-close his, the Cottonmouth Club in Houston. In March, Neff had initially closed the Cottonmouth and laid off his 10 employees. Late last month, he reopened. He brought back two employees with precautions — requiring customers to wear masks except when seated, eliminating bar seating, developing a contactless menu and erecting a barrier at the bar’s entrance.

It didn’t work. After being cooped up for months, bar-goers appeared in no mood for social distancing, especially when they could visit other bars with fewer restrictions. Employees at the Cottonmouth were spending most of their time monitoring customers’ behavior.

“You can’t create an environment people want to be in if you are scolding them the whole time,” Neff said.

Then he began hearing of bars where the entire staff had tested positive for the coronavirus. Two weeks ago, Neff decided to shut down again on his own.

“We couldn’t just be a magical COVID-free zone,” he said.

Financially, it has been difficult. But Neff said his landlord has allowed him to pay what he can so far.

Likewise, Omar Yeefoon reopened his Dallas restaurant June 10 to “a pretty good reception,” after having been shuttered for three months. The comeback was fleeting. After four days, Yeefoon had to shut down again in the face of a COVID-19 resurgence in Texas and lay off two of the four workers he’d brought back.

“People’s minds — they still don’t feel comfortable,” Yeefoon said. “Psychologically, forcing this reopening and forcing everyone to go out -- I don’t know how it is playing out ... We in Texas have not been doing this right.”

Some business people have voiced frustration over the often contradictory and evolving directives from government authorities and by the impossible situation the virus has put them in.

“You open too soon, and people die,” said Dawn Nielsen, chief operating officer at Kolache Factory, which has 27 bakeries mostly around Houston. “You don’t open soon enough, and businesses die.’’

Kolache Factory had reopened dining rooms for two weeks, then shut them back down on June 19 and returned to takeout and delivery only.

The re-closings are complicating prospects for a enduring economic recovery from the sudden and deep U.S. economic downturn. In a worst-case scenario, economists at IHS Markit warn, after a brief rebound, the economy could slip back into recession by the end of the year.

Economists Mark Vitner and Charlie Dougherty at Wells Fargo Securities note that the uptick in reported viral cases is occurring in cities like Dallas, Houston and Atlanta that have accounted for a disproportionate share of economic growth in recent years.

“The second-half economic recovery will be weaker and more sluggish than what we hoped for,” Shin of Washington University said, “precisely because we failed to contain the epidemic as effectively as we should have.’’

Loller reported from Nashville, Tennessee, and Kennedy from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. AP Business Writer Tali Arbel contributed to this report from New York.
Mozambique Extends State of Emergency for 3rd Time, With Some Restrictions Relaxed
2020-06-29 10:22:16|Editor: huaxia

MAPUTO, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi announced Sunday the extension of the state of emergency for another 30 days for the third time, with some measures relaxed to seek a new normality amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We decided to maintain the level three (measures) and adjust some measures that have an impact on the country, in a phased manner, to allow certain sectors to resume activities," said Nyusi in his televised speech to the nation.

During the extended state of emergency period that starts from Tuesday, the process of relaxing restrictive measures will be gradual, and could be reversed depending on the evolution of the pandemic, said the president.

Nyusi mentioned the reopening of several sectors including education, business, culture and tourism, which he said must be done in strict compliance with the preventive measures and protocols defined by health authorities.

"The resumption of face-to-face classes in primary and secondary education will take place in three phases to be announced within days," he said.

To boost tourism and stimulate business, the country will be open to investors, specialists and visitors, and flights from selected countries will be allowed, said Nyusi, adding that restaurants will reopen, but bars will remain closed.

The pandemic in Mozambique is less severe than many other countries due to decisive preventive measures taken at the right time, according to the president.

"Everything we've done has resulted in delaying the peak of the disease," he said. 
Insurgents Stage 'Very Violent' Attack Close to Gas Projects in Mozambique
June 27, 2020, at 11:52 a.m.

MAPUTO (REUTERS) - Suspected Islamist insurgents attacked a town in the north of Mozambique near billion-dollar gas projects managed by Total and Exxon Mobil early on Saturday morning, a police and a security source told Reuters.

The police source said the attack, the latest on the strategically important town of Mocimboa da Praia, 60 km (40 miles) south of the gas projects, was "very violent" and the country's defence and security forces (DSF) had suffered a number of casualties.

Gunmen attack Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi, several killed including assailants

"The DSF are fighting a fierce fight because they were met with hefty firepower," the source said, adding that communications were now down.

Spokespeople for the defence ministry and police did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Mozambique's northern-most province of Cabo Delgado is home to the gas developments worth some $60 billion. Since 2017, it has also seen an Islamist insurgency with links to Islamic State that has gathered pace over the past year.

A separate security source confirmed the attack on Saturday and said helicopters operated by private security firm Dyck Advisory Group, which has been acting alongside government forces since earlier this year, also responded after initially being delayed by weather conditions and poor visibility.

Last year the insurgent group, known as Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama, pledged allegiance to Islamic State, which subsequently began claiming the attacks via their media channels, including an earlier strike on Mocimboa da Praia in March. The town's port is used for cargo deliveries to the gas developments.

Exxon and Total did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent outside business hours.

The insurgents have this year increasingly hit towns and military targets, prompting growing concern including from Mozambique's regional neighbours.

Aid agency Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) recently halted its operations in Mocimboa da Praia, as well as in another town in the region, due to the security situation.

(Reporting by Manuel Mucari in Maputo and Emma Rumney in Johannesburg; Writing by Emma Rumney; Editing by James Drummond)
Thousands Flee Violence in Mozambique
An armed group is accused of rights abuses in Mozambique, and accusations are emerging against the army too.

by Malcolm Webb

Nearly 1,000 people have been killed, and more than 200,000 displaced by an armed group in northern Mozambique.

The fighters say they reject the government and want to establish political Islam.

The army has failed to contain it, and has itself been accused of rights abuses.

Al Jazeera's Malcolm Webb reports.
UN Human Rights Chief Brands Israel's Annexation of More Palestinian Land Illegal
Michelle Bachelet urged Tel Aviv ‘not to proceed along this dangerous path’

Israeli soldiers stand by a bus station at the Tapuach junction next to the West Bank city of Nablus
ANNEXATION of Palestinian land is illegal, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said yesterday, urging Israel not to proceed along a dangerous path which will create shockwaves lasting decades.

In a last-ditch appeal to Tel Aviv, she said it was not too late to abandon plans which would see whole swathes of the occupied West Bank, including the fertile Jordan Valley, stolen by Israel.

“Annexation is illegal. Period. Any annexation. Whether it is 30 per cent of the West Bank, or 5 per cent,” she said in a statement.

“I urge Israel to listen to its own former senior officials and generals, as well as to the multitude of voices around the world, warning it not to proceed along this dangerous path.”

Israel has been given the green light to annex land in an agreement branded the “deal of the century” announced by US President Donald Trump and Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington in January.

Under the plans, Israel will take control of illegally occupied land and controversially be granted Jerusalem as its undivided capital.

But the deal has been strongly criticised by international bodies, including the UN which urged Israel to abandon annexation plans.

Last month saw Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sever ties with Washington and Tel Aviv over the plans.

But in the last meeting of the UN security council earlier this month, member states appeared to rule out sanctions against Israel, claiming the situation was “different” to Russia’s annexation of Crimea which was used as a comparison.

Ms Bachelet insisted that the annexation would be disastrous for Palestinians and undermine efforts to bring peace to the region.

“It is likely to entrench, perpetuate, and further heighten serious human rights violations that have characterised the conflict for decades,” she said.

“Palestinians living within the annexed zone would experience greater difficulty accessing essential services like education and health, and humanitarian access may also be hindered,” she added.

“Settlements — already a clear violation of international law — will almost certainly expand, increasing the existing friction between the two communities.”

Despite vocal opposition and statements of disapproval, Israel knows that action is unlikely, allowing it to continue to act with impunity.
Tanzania's John Magufuli - the Man Vowing to Defeat Coronavirus and Imperialism
By Sammy Awami
BBC News, Dar es Salaam
18 June 2020

Tanzania's President John Magufuli has been criticised over his repeated attacks on "imperialists" and his recent declaration that prayers had ended coronavirus in the East African state.

But this is unlikely to bother him as, throughout his presidency of more than five years, he has styled himself as a stout African nationalist and a devout Catholic waging war against foreign powers seeking to exploit the East African nation.

"I want you Tanzanians to believe that you have a real president, a real rock. I cannot be threatened and I am not threatened," Mr Magufuli said in March 2018.

He hopes that he has cemented this reputation over the last two years, and it will secure him a second term in elections due in October.

One of Mr Magufuli's biggest battles was against Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold Corp.

He demanded a 60% stake for the government in three of its gold mines to end the "exploitation" of Tanzania's resources.

The 60-year-old president cast the negotiations as a clash between a cow and a rabbit and, although the government eventually settled for a 16% share, the talks signalled that it was no longer business as usual.

As Barrick boss Mark Bristow walked from the lectern to shake Mr Magufuli's hand at the signing ceremony in January, he said: "What it's done is challenge the mining industry and all of us to embark on something where we win together or lose together."

In his response, Mr Magufuli not only burnished his nationalist credentials, but also his religious credentials, saying: "I thank God for the success of this agreement."

Mr Magufuli has encouraged congregational worship throughout the coronavirus crisis
He has also cancelled two deals with China: the building of Tanzania's first electric railway line linking the main commercial city Dar es Salaam to the capital, Dodoma, about 500km (310 miles) away and the construction of East Africa's biggest port in Bagamoyo, once the capital of German East Africa, at a cost of $10bn (£8bn).

Mr Magufuli said only a "madman" would accept the financial terms negotiated by his predecessor Jakaya Kikwete's government for the building of the port.

He has long blamed selfish leadership and a failure to put the nation first for Tanzania's underdevelopment.

But it is Western powers that Mr Magufuli is most suspicious of, and he accuses local "puppets" - usually a cast of opposition politicians, rights activists and critical journalists - of championing the interests of their "masters".

'A brutal pragmatist'

"This healthy suspicion sometimes fuels paranoia, which is strange for a president who has consolidated so much power," Tanzanian analyst Thabit Jacob told the BBC.

"His nationalism has also turned illiberal and populist. He is squeezing the opposition, narrowing civic space, cracking down on the media and increasing surveillance."

"It does not allow for discussion or dissent about methods or outcomes as this would ostensibly weaken the government or introduce an element of chaos."

No trips to the West

Mr Magufuli has revived use of the Swahili word "beberu". It literally means "a male goat", but it was commonly used to refer to "Western imperialists" when Tanzania was fighting for independence, and when a socialist government took office following the end of British colonial rule.

Mr Magufuli has not been on a single official visit to a Western nation since coming to power. Nor has he attended, as president, sessions of the UN General Assembly, which other African leaders see as an opportunity to spell out their vision to a global audience.

He has attended African Union summits and visited a few African countries - including Rwanda and Uganda, whose leaders in many ways share his suspicions of Western nations.

However, he puts his vision for the nation ahead of his pan-African ideals. He did not attend regional summits to discuss the coronavirus crisis, and the temporary border closure of Tanzania's borders with Zambia and Kenya point to diplomatic tensions.

When Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni described the regional body, the East African Community, as a "household" whose "occupants" needed to co-operate to combat the virus, Mr Magufuli - without directly referring to his Ugandan counterpart's comments - said at a church service in his home town that "we co-operate in bringing development. However, in resolving a problem, everyone has their own means".

Unlike Uganda and Rwanda, Mr Magufuli did not impose a lockdown to curb the virus, saying he feared it would cause poverty.

Unfairly singled out?

As a result, he has come under criticism from the main opposition parties, which say densely populated cities should have been under lockdown.

However, Mr Magufuli is not alone in rejecting such measures.

Data collected by the respected Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) shows that around a quarter of African states, including Ethiopia, did not shut down to curb the spread of the virus.

Why lockdowns may not be the answer in Africa

And soon after the first Covid-19 case was detected in the country in mid-March, Tanzania took measures such as closing schools and banning sports events.

Even before this, Mr Magufuli famously exchanged a foot greeting with opposition politician Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad at the presidential mansion as health experts warned that the virus could spread through handshakes.

Despite this, World Health Organization (WHO) Africa director Matshidiso Moeti accused Tanzania of acting slowly to curb the spread of the virus.

"In Tanzania we have observed that physical distancing, including the prohibition of mass gatherings, took some time to happen and we believe that these might have been probable factors that led to a rapid increase in cases there," the South African-born WHO official said in April.

For his critics, one of Mr Magufuli's biggest mistakes has been to encourage religious services, sometimes without social distancing, despite the fact that most health experts say the risk of infections spreading is extremely high at such gatherings.

"Coronavirus is a devil. It cannot live in the body of Christ," the Tanzanian leader, who has a PhD in chemistry and is a devout Catholic, said in March.

And when Mr Magufuli addressed worshippers earlier this month, he said: "The corona disease has been eliminated thanks to God."

A few days later he appeared to row back on his statement, saying the virus was still around and urging people to continue to take precautions such as washing their hands regularly.

But on Tuesday, in his final parliamentary address before election campaigning started, Mr Magufuli repeated that God had spared Tanzania the virus, and called for all schools to reopen and for a return to normality.

Conspiracy theories

However on the same day, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said Tanzania had 66 active coronavirus cases, releasing data for the first time since April when Mr Magufuli questioned the reliability of the figures.

In at least two previous speeches, Mr Magufuli described Tanzania's fight against the disease as "warfare", hinting that he saw it as a "Western plot".

"There are so many unbelievable things being done in this country. Either the imperialists have bought off the laboratory technicians, or they are not competent, which is not true," he said.

He also questioned the credibility of testing kits, without saying who had supplied them.

"So many times, I have insisted that not everything that you are given is good. There could be people being used, that equipment could be used… but it could also be sabotage because this is warfare," he said, lurching towards a conspiracy theory.

Magufuli is a 'piece of iron'

Mr Magufuli has also championed traditional medication, including steam inhalation and a Malagasy-produced tonic made from the artemisia plant, to fight the virus, despite the WHO saying there is no evidence that the treatment works.

"Magufuli sees African nations as allies, or at least, not 'mabeberu', and therefore, prefers to deal with them and seek out medical remedies from them rather than from elsewhere," Tanzanian political analyst Dan Paget said.

Many health experts believe the leaders - who also include Liberia's George Weah - are creating false hopes, but herbal medicine is part of the lives of most Africans. WHO data shows that 80% of them use it.

Whether Mr Magufuli's strategy has paid off will become clear in the coming months.

For now, he has strengthened his support among many African nationalists, religious conservatives, and businessmen, bolstering his chances of securing a second term in the October election.

When Mr Kikwete handed power to him in 2015, he said: "I'm leaving, but we've brought this chuma [Swahili for a piece of iron]."

It was an apt description of Mr Magufuli's style of leadership, which has been applauded by his supporters and loathed by his critics.
Tanzania: Schools Reopen After 3-month Lockdown
Tanzania becomes the first country in East Africa, opening schools and not enforcing lockdown in cities, despite criticism

Kizito Makoye   |

Children across the East African country of Tanzania headed to schools on Monday, after three months of closure due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move makes the country, the first in East Africa to allow students to return to schools. Tanzania had earlier reopened universities and other higher learning institutions.

Children wearing neat uniforms and face masks were seen jostling to get into public transport in the country’s commercial capital and the port city of Dar es Salaam.

“I am very happy to go back to school, the facial mask I am wearing will protect me the whole day,” said Juma Maulid, a grade seven student at Ununio Primary School.

According to the US-based Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre, Tanzania has reported 509 COVID-19 cases with 21 deaths. While 183 people have recovered, the country has 305 active cases.

The country stopped releasing COVID-19 related statistics from April 29, drawing widespread local and international criticism.

President John Magufuli ordered reopening of schools across the country, a fortnight ago, claiming that the situation has improved.

He said the coronavirus pandemic is rapidly waning in the country, adding that there is no need for the schools to remain closed. He, however, asked citizens to take the necessary precautions.

The elections are scheduled in the country in October after the president dissolved the parliament two weeks ago.

He also allowed social activities including wedding ceremonies.

According to Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassie Majolica there were 66 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in 10 regions across the country three weeks ago.

-President blames Chinese kits for the surge in cases

President Magufuli also claimed that the Chinese-made COVID-19 test kits were defective and gave wrong results.

Known as the bulldozer for his propensity to get things done, Magufuli declared victory over the coronavirus pandemic saying, “God” has heard the people’s prayers.

“I want to thank Tanzanians of all faiths. We have been praying, fasting, and asking God to save us from the pandemic that has affected our country and the world. God has answered us,” he told a packed church congregation recently.

The World Health Organization (WHO), strongly criticized Tanzania on its handling of the deadly pandemic.

The government decided not to enforce lockdown especially in the city of Dar es Salaam on the ground not to hit the economy has drawn widespread criticism. The city was becoming an epicenter pandemic. Critics said that for the sake of economy, the government has ignored health and right to life of the public.

The US embassy in the country repeatedly issued health alerts, warning its citizen to exercise great care in Dar es Salaam, to avoid contracting the disease.

- Health Ministry issues strict guidelines

Meanwhile, Tanzania’s Health Ministry has issued a strict guideline to help students to protect themselves from the COVID-19.

The Spokesperson Gerald Chama said the government has instructed schools to install hand-washing facilities and arrange running water. Also, educate school children about safety measures like wearing masks in school assembly and classrooms, said the statement released by the spokesperson.

The statement said except for students with underlying health problems, such as diabetes, sickle cell, asthma, all students should wear face masks most of the time.

President Magufuli, a devout catholic, recently praised worshipers and priests in a chapel, for not wearing facial masks during a Sunday service, stressing the health crisis was being exaggerated beyond proportions.

In a schedule issued for lessons and examinations by the Minister for Education Science and Technology Joyce Ndalichako, has ordered schools to cover the syllabus within a set time frame.

She has also asked schools to add two additional hours to bridge the time lost by children during the lockdown period.

While some private schools embarked on virtual learning and online classes, the majority of students in public schools did not have the opportunity to learn during the long holiday.

The government moves to open schools that have been received with mixed feelings among parents and teachers.

“I am very happy we are back to work, the students were very much affected psychologically for missing classes,” said Iren Simtanda, a teacher in Dar es Salaam.

There were, however, others who said the decision of reopening schools was premature in the wake of the continuous threat of a pandemic.

“I don't think it was appropriate to decide to send children back to school, while we know clearly there's still a high threat of people being infected.

“In my opinion the decision is political and could have dire consequences since the COVID-19 guidelines recommend by the World Health Organization had not been strictly followed, and no tests are done,” said Japhet Masunga, a parent in Dar es Salaam.
Tanzanian Schools Reopen With Strict Health Guidelines
By Jerry Omondi
China Global Television Network

Students queue up to wash their hands before entering classroom at a primary school in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on June 29, 2020. (Xinhua)

Tanzania’s students returned to class on Monday following weeks of closure as the country continues its emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, were allowed to resume learning following an order by President John Magufuli, who has expressed satisfaction with his country’s handling of the pandemic.

Schools were ordered shut on 17 May as part of the East African country’s strategy to curb further spread of the disease.

The government has now greenlighted a reopening of the country, including the education and tourism sectors.

Students trooped back to their classrooms wearing face masks as part of health guidelines to avoid another outbreak. Those who did not adhere to the set regulations were turned back.

“All precautionary measures against COVID-19 are in place to protect our pupils,” Xinhua quotes Veronica Mrope, head teacher of Makole primary school in the capital Dodoma.

Amani Mfaume, head master of Dodoma Secondary School, said the school’s management has decided that teachers will teach up to Saturdays in order to offset time that was lost when students went for a three-month leave following the outbreak of the viral disease.

Flora Tibaijuka, a matron with Barbro Johansson Model Girls’ Secondary School in Dar es Salaam, said most of the students were reluctant to wear face masks.

“They are giving all reasons with some of them say when they wear the masks they cannot breathe well,” said Tibaijuka, adding that the school authorities have made it mandatory to wear masks.

Joyce Ndalichako, Minister for Education, Science and Technology, earlier this month said education will resume with strict adherence to health protocols in order to ensure safety for learners and teachers.

Tanzania has reported a total of 509 COVID-19 infections and 21 deaths, according to data from the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
Belgium's Congolese Mark 60 Years Since DRC's Independence
The Belgo-Congolese are still marked by their past with Belgium as well as the present's systematic discrimination.

by Daniela De Lorenzo

Brussels, Belgium - The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its independence, gained after 70 years of bloody Belgian colonisation.

Each year, June 30 is celebrated across the world by the Congolese diaspora, with one of the biggest communities located in Belgium's capital, Brussels.

The Belgo-Congolese are still marked by their past with Belgium as well as the present's systematic discrimination and racial profiling.

The issues came to prominence when Black Lives Matter protesters attacked monuments to Belgian King Leopold II, who is blamed for millions of Congolese deaths during Belgian colonisation.

Young Belgians of Congolese descent see the June 30 celebrations as an opportunity to highlight the need for equality and the end of ethnic profiling in Belgium.

But the anti-racism movement has seen little participation from Belgium's older Congolese generation.

"Our parents tell us not to protest as they fear violence towards us," Mireille-Tsheusi Robert, the founder of anti-racist group Bamko-Cran, told Al Jazeera.

"We have seen our parents being humiliated and degraded in front of our eyes, and they are our heroes. We do not want to allow and endure the same relationship they had with the rest of the Belgian society," she said.

Others seek to end racism in Belgian society through other means.

Celestina Jorges Vindes, the owner of the first African bookshop in Brussels, told Al Jazeera that "literature is a good way to connect people with each other".

"By reading about something that we initially consider different from us, we end up finding similarities," she said, adding that she named her shop Pepite Blues (French for Blue nuggets) in reference to digging out the things that unite us.

The Black Lives Matter demonstrations have increased demand for African literature, especially on the topics of gender, decolonisation and racism, she said.

"These are not peripheral questions to the Belgian society, but they have been sidelined so far, and the issues need to be brought back at the centre," she said.

"We need to finally learn to coexist, in the neighbourhood and in the city," she said, referring to the Matonge neighbourhood where the bookshop is located and which has a large Congolese population.

From Matonge to Matonge

Over the past 60 years, more than 280,000 people emigrated from the DRC to Belgium, with those arriving in Brussels establishing the Congolese community in the Matonge neighbourhood.

The area was named after a district of the DRC's capital Kinshasa by the first wave of Congolese arrivals - students looking to live close to the Free University of Brussels.

"Matonge is the hairdressing hub," said Adolphe, who fled the DRC in 2010. He works as a barber in one of the many salons. The owner had sold his shop in Kinshasa and reopened it in Brussels with the same name: Franck.

Travel agencies in the neighbourhood show return fares to the DRC and fliers on shop windows promote different Congolese import-export businesses.

"We are the Congolese DHL," said the owner of BKR, whose business is run in Lingala, the Congolese national language.

"People come to us because when they send parcels abroad, they want to be able to speak their language."

Queues form outside money transfer shops, most of the people sending money to their families in the DRC, a country that relies heavily on remittances.

According to figures, a Congolese person living in Belgium will transfer an average of 2,400 euros ($2,695) to the DRC every year.

While second-generation Belgo-Congolese seek to improve their life in Belgium, the older generation remains concerned about the situation in the DRC.

"Similar to the colonisation, the process of the Belgian decolonisation has been a disaster for Congo," Philip Buyck, an activist who in 2005 opened the Lumumba Library in the centre of Matonge, told Al Jazeera.

Colonialism left a legacy of authoritarianism, with the country suffering under the regimes of Mobutu Sese Seko and his successors, Laurent Kabila and Joseph Kabila.

What little role that Belgium played in the transition towards independence has been heavily criticised.

The Justice and Peace (Justice et Paix) human rights organisation has highlighted the poor management of development aid from Belgium that never reached those who needed it most.

"Aside of justice for our community, one of the many demands from the Congolese are in fact financial restitutions," said Mireille-Tsheusi Robert.

New arrivals

The first waves of Congolese arrivals did not make long-term plans in Belgium, hoping to return to their home country after the situation improved there.

So, the diaspora did not invest in real estate in Matonge, which hosts a growing number of European, pan-African and Middle Eastern cafes and restaurants.

New arrivals from the DRC and across Africa come to the area seeking support from compatriots who have managed to make a new life in Belgium.

Diallo, an asylum seeker from Guyana, was given a spot at the back of a salon for his tailor service in Matonge after living on the streets for two years.

On June 30, he and many others in the African community celebrate DRC's independence in Matonge.

Tickets were sold out at the Congolese-Flemish cultural organisation KUUMBA in the middle of Matonge, which on Tuesday hosts a concert and activities to celebrate the anniversary.

Philip Buyck has planned a full-day event at the Tam-Tam bar which will hear, among others, a speech by the son of the first Prime Minister of the DRC, Patrice Lumumba.

Lumumba became a pan-African symbol of resistance after a historic speech on June 30, 1960, in which he accused the former colonial masters of racist maltreatment and forcing "humiliating slavery" on the Congolese people.

On Tuesday, Belgium's King Philippe expressed his "deepest regrets" for the harm done during Belgian colonial rule to the Congolese people, in a first for his country.
10th Ebola Outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Declared Over; Vigilance Against Flare-ups and Support for Survivors Must Continue
25 June 2020
News release

Today marks the end of the 10th outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This long, complex and difficult outbreak has been overcome due to the leadership and commitment of the Government of the DRC, supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), a multitude of partners, donors, and above all, the efforts of the communities affected by the virus.

WHO congratulates all those involved in the arduous and often dangerous work required to end the outbreak, but stresses the need for vigilance. Continuing to support survivors and maintaining strong surveillance and response systems in order to contain potential flare-ups is critical in the months to come.

"The outbreak took so much from all of us, especially from the people of DRC, but we came out of it with valuable lessons, and valuable tools. The world is now better-equipped to respond to Ebola. A vaccine has been licensed, and effective treatments identified,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“We should celebrate this moment, but we must resist complacency. Viruses do not take breaks. Ultimately, the best defence against any outbreak is investing in a stronger health system as the foundation for universal health coverage.”

The outbreak, declared in North Kivu on 1 August 2018, was the second largest in the world, and was particularly challenging as it took place an active conflict zone. There were 3470 cases, 2287 deaths and 1171 survivors.

Led by the DRC Government and the Ministry of Health and supported by WHO and partners, the more than 22-month-long response involved training thousands of health workers, registering 250 000 contacts, testing 220 000 samples, providing patients with equitable access to advanced therapeutics, vaccinating over 303 000 people with the highly effective rVSV-ZEBOV-GP vaccine, and offering care for all survivors after their recovery.

The response was bolstered by the engagement and leadership of the affected communities. Thanks to their efforts, this outbreak did not spread globally. More than 16 000 local frontline responders worked alongside the more than 1500 people deployed by WHO. Support from donors was essential, as was the work of UN partner agencies, national and international NGOs, research networks, and partners deployed through the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. Hard work to build up preparedness capacities in neighbouring countries also limited the risk of the outbreak expanding.

Work will continue to build on the gains made in this response to address other health challenges, including measles and COVID-19.

“During the almost two years we fought the Ebola virus, WHO and partners helped strengthen the capacity of local health authorities to manage outbreaks,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

“The DRC is now better, smarter and faster at responding to Ebola and this is an enduring legacy which is supporting the response to COVID-19 and other outbreaks.”

As countries around the world face the COVID-19 pandemic, the DRC Ebola response provides valuable lessons. Many of the public health measures that have been successful in stopping Ebola are the same measures that are now essential for stopping COVID-19: finding, isolating, testing, and caring for every case and relentless contact tracing.

In DRC, community workers were provided with training and a smartphone data collection app that enabled them to track contacts and report in real time rather than fill in laborious paper reports. Even when violence locked down cities, the community workers, many of them local women, continued to track and trace contacts using the application, something that was crucial for ending this outbreak.

While this 10th outbreak in DRC has ended, the fight against Ebola continues. On 1 June 2020, seven cases of Ebola were reported in Mbandaka city and neighbouring Bikoro Health Zone in Equateur Province and an 11th outbreak was declared. WHO is supporting the government-led response with more than 50 staff already deployed and more than 5000 vaccinations already administered.

WHO salutes the thousands of heroic responders who fought one of the world’s most dangerous viruses in one of the world’s most unstable regions. Some health workers, including WHO experts, paid the ultimate price and sacrificed their lives to the Ebola response. 
500 Extra Staff to Boost Health Sector
30 JUN, 2020 - 00:06
Herald Reporter

An additional 500 health workers are to be recruited to upgrade Zimbabwe’s capacity to cope with Covid-19, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said yesterday.

After the meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Covid-19 at State House yesterday, she said the recruitment of the 500 follows the unfreezing of 4 000 health sector posts by Government in March and the creation of 200 other posts as part of measures to fight the pandemic.

“The taskforce was informed that Treasury had concurred to the recruitment of an additional 500 health workers including doctors, nurses, and technicians for intensive care units, high dependency units and isolation centres across the country.

“This recruitment will go a long way in boosting our health services’ capacity to respond to and treat Covid-19 cases,” she said.

The minister was speaking as the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported seven more confirmed cases, three among returnees and four local, although three of those were contacts of a known case and health workers are tracking down the source of the fourth.

This takes the total of confirmed cases to 574, most in quarantine centres.

With more testing of those who were sick and got better the number of confirmed recoveries has risen to 152.

South Africa, still the regional epicentre, now has 138 134 cases, 2 456 deaths but showing the falling rate of infection now has 68 925 confirmed recoveries, almost half those infected.

Minister Mutsvangwa said Government had identified three facilities to house health frontline workers as a way of protecting their families from possible infections.

The three centres are Monomotapa Crowne Plaza Hotel in Harare, Marondera Hotel and Khayela Guest Lodge in Gweru. Government would meet the costs of the workers’ stay.

The minister also reassured the nation that Government would not ignore other health challenges facing the nation.

“It is in this context that the taskforce noted with sadness the typhoid and dysentery in some Bulawayo suburbs,” she said.

“So far, Bulawayo has reported five community and seven hospital deaths. Government has therefore embarked on an intensive bulk water trucking programme to affected communities. Water samples from these areas are also undergoing analysis.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said there were 1 770 returnees housed in quarantine facilities across the country, with the highest number in Harare.

She also said people who are infected with Covid-19 and were unable to self-isolate at home were being isolated at centres reserved for people seeking treatment while the taskforce had recommended that all positive cases at private and public quarantine facilities be moved to specific isolation centres in order to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.

On the re-opening of schools, universities and colleges, the minister said the taskforce had received reports from the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development and from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education on plans and standard operating procedures for the prevention and management of Covid-19 at learning institutions.

Minister Mutsvangwa said the tertiary institutions were required to have one, or at most two, entrances where all students and staff entering and exiting go through screening.

The institution will also be required to ensure that students and employees are educated on the symptoms and the measures to take if Covid-19 symptoms manifest.

Depending on student volumes, timetables may have to be adjusted to ensure an even wider spread of students while students and employees will be encouraged to go home as soon as their classes or work is completed for the day.

Minister Mutsvangwa said sporting activities were banned at schools and universities while buildings would be disinfected prior to re-opening.

If any employee or student shows symptoms of Covid-19 while on campus, a report shall immediately be made to the institution’s health department for appropriate medical assistance.

For the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, the policy of “stay at home if unwell” for learners, teachers, and school staff with symptoms would be enforced while the school would be required to establish a temporary isolation holding bay.

Apart from the major disinfection of all school buildings and grounds before the re-opening of schools, schools should be cleaned and disinfected frequently on touched surfaces such as door handles, desks, toys, teaching aids, and play equipment.

“The taskforce noted that strict compliance with these standard operating procedures is required by all and failure to observe these guidelines would compromise the health and safety of all.

“This would be in breach of the Public Health Act and relevant Covid-19 prevention and control measures. Heads of office at national, provincial, district and school level authorities have the responsibility to ensure and enforce compliance,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister Mutsvangwa said today was the deadline for applicants to lodge their applications for licences for television stations and services in line with Government policy to reform the media through legislative reforms, media cultural reform and registering new players in television.

She also reiterated that the Zimbabwe dollar, including bond notes and coins, remained legal tender in the country.
Malawi Envoy Speaks on New Administration
30 JUN, 2020
Zvamaida Murwira

Senior Reporter

The coming in of a new government in Malawi will not affect cordial bilateral relations between Zimbabwe and Lilongwe built on existing cooperation for decades, a top diplomat has said.

Malawian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ms Annie Yauka Kumwenda said the bond between Zimbabwe and Malawi was multifaceted as it ranged from intermarriage of citizens, culture, values and history, among other issues.

In an interview yesterday, Ms Kumwenda said the two countries would continue to explore ways to deepen their relations.

Her comments followed the electoral win by Dr Lazarus Chakwera who defeated incumbent, Professor Peter Mutharika in a rerun that saw the country overcoming the twin challenges of Covid-19 and voting without observers.

President Mnangagwa, who chairs the Sadc Organ of Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation has since sent a congratulatory message and pledged to work with Dr Chakwera — the 6th President of Malawi — to strengthen global peace and cooperation.

Malawi went to the polls last week after the country’s constitutional court in February annulled results of last year’s elections after unearthing several irregularities.

Ms Kumwenda said Malawi could not invite regional leaders for the inauguration of Dr Chakwera owing to Covid-19 restrictions.

“Going forward, Malawi has a foreign policy, which guides implementation of international cooperation with different partners. The coming in of new a government will build on the existing Malawi growth and development strategy to maximise the trade and other bilateral cooperation that exist between Malawi and Zimbabwe,” said Ms Kumwenda.

“Zimbabwe and Malawi have had a close history for a long time. They share common values, history and culture. Along with Zambia, they were one country under the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.”

In his message, President Mnangagwa implored parties that participated in the election rerun to accept official results.

Amid tensions between supporters of Dr Chakwera and Prof Mutharika, Malawi — a former British colony — went to the elections but without observers, as is the norm due to hamstrings caused by Covid-19.

President Mnangagwa pledged to ensure that the two countries would continue to enjoy bilateral relations.
Are US and China Heading Into a New Cold War?
Sunday, 28 June 2020 3:12 PM

In this file photo US President Donald Trump (L) and China's President Xi Jinping leave a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017.

With tensions continuing to rise between the US and China, experts warn that the two rivals are potentially heading into a new “cold war” that could prove damaging to the global economy.

President Donald Trump has raised the possibility of a “complete decoupling” from China. Decoupling, the process of breaking the deeply intertwined economic links between the two countries, would represent a major change in US-China relations.

Inconsistent messaging from the White House, coupled with the coronavirus pandemic and Beijing’s drive to limit Hong Kong’s autonomy, has led to frictions between the world’s two largest economies far beyond tariffs or targeted sanctions.

“Unlike the first Cold War where the primary contest between the United States and Soviet Union was a geopolitical one ... both systems, both constellation of countries, didn’t have much to do from a trade and financial point of view. That is not the case today,” Alan Dupont, chief executive of risk consultancy Cognoscenti Group, told CNBC.

“That is why I think the ramifications of this conflict — this worsening rivalry between the U.S. and China — (are) going to be potentially very serious,” he added.

Relations between the two rivals have deteriorated to their worst in decades since Trump took office in 2017. The US and China have engaged in a destabilizing trade war with each slapping new tariffs on the other since 2018.

More recently, US-China relations plunged even lower after Washington accused Beijing of keeping the world in the dark over the coronavirus pandemic and hiding the extent of the outbreak.

China is America’s largest trading partner and next to Mexico and Canada, is the third-largest export market for the US.  China has for long been a key test of America’s foreign policy, its national security and preservation of interests.

But President Trump has exploited and manipulated this crucial relationship almost entirely to serve his political and personal interests, according to a damning new memoir by his former national security advisor, John Bolton.

Despite the recent tough talk, there has been no coherent and consistent policy on China. Administration officials have been divided by factional infighting and conflicting policy goals, with security hawks often clashing with Wall Street advocates and free traders.

President Trump himself has been sending conflicting messages, which appear to be designed to boost his reelection prospects.

Even in the midst of the trade war, Trump casually offered to reduce tariffs on Chinese goods in order to secure a deal with Beijing that would make him look good in November.

The president also reportedly pressed China to buy US agricultural products so that he would poll well in Midwestern states.

The fate of that “Phase One” trade deal now hangs in the balance with Beijing threatening that US intervention in matters China regards as off limits could cause it to reconsider purchasing American farms products and other exports.

Chinese media, meanwhile, say the US is hoping to see a showdown, even an eruption of war, between China and its neighbors.

In recent months, the US has stepped up military pressure on China. American Navy ships and Air Force B-1 bombers carried out missions in the disputed South China Sea, sending a message that the US intends to maintain its military presence in the region.

Washington is also looking to further engage with India to bolster the country as a geopolitical bulwark against China amid a border dispute between the neighbors.

However, the rest of the world -- even America’s traditional allies -- appears more likely to side with Beijing than Washington as tensions continue to mount between the two rivals.

At a vote during the World Health Organization's annual meeting last month, Europe resisted US calls to investigate how China had handled the coronavirus pandemic, while Trump branded the organization as a Chinese puppet.

The world has ample reasons to be worried about what is increasingly becoming inevitable, but the real question is how a decoupling between the US and China will shape a post-pandemic world.
US and Its Allies Are Leading an Arms Race in Middle East, Not Iran: Scholar
Monday, 29 June 2020 6:32 PM
Press TV

A handout picture provided by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on June 29, 2020 shows Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir (R) and US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook (C) speak with a Saudi Army officer in Riyadh. (Photo via AFP)

The United States and its allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, are leading an arms race in the Middle East region, not Iran, an American scholar has said.

Kevin Barrett, an author, journalist and radio host with a Ph.D. in Islamic and Arabic Studies, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Monday, after US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said that lifting the arms embargo on Iran will trigger an arms race in the Middle East.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir in Riyadh on Monday, Hook said lifting the ban would "only embolden" Iran and destabilize the region.

"This is not an outcome that the UN Security Council can accept. The council's mandate is clear: to maintain international peace and security," Hook added.

Barrett said that “Brian Hook is the US Special Representative to the United Nations and he's trying to extend the UN weapons embargo on Iran, and he's claimed to be doing so under provisions of the JCPOA, which the US has withdrawn from.”

“So, this is quite mind-boggling. Why he thinks the US has the right to invoke the JCPOA after it exited the JCPOA is a mystery. Likewise, it's a mystery why he thinks that the lack of an arms embargo on Iran would lead to an arms race in the Middle East region,” he stated.

“Clearly, the regimes that are arming themselves and initiating an arms race in the region are the US allies, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, and Iran is far from leading an arms race in the region. If we look at population, and so on, Iran is actually relatively under-armed, although it seems to be doing okay despite the fact that it's essentially been embargoed and so it has to do everything itself, make its own rockets, and it's managed to put satellites into space despite all of these sanctions, and opposition from other countries including sabotage,” he said. 

“We just saw an explosion in Iran maybe some form of sabotage; certainly, we know that Iran's enemies have been supporting terrorism in Iran, and elsewhere in the region. They've killed nearly 20,000 innocent civilians in Iran, through support for some of the world's worst terrorist groups,” he noted.

“So, this is of course absurd, but it just goes to show that the US Empire is still in its arrogant phase. It has not yet been fully humbled although its reputation in the world has certainly taken a hit after the coronavirus pandemic, which many suspects is a US biological attack, or perhaps a biological attack by the Western international bankers who largely own the US and dictate policy in the US, that the US has had such a terrible response to it,” the analyst said. 

“The US now has the worst coronavirus caseload in the world per capita, and it's still growing here. And yet the US pretends that it's going to be running around the world dictating policy and telling people what they can do in each region. And of course, if Brian hook really wants to end the arms race in the Middle East, the first thing he should do is stop selling the weapons that Saudi Arabia is using to commit genocide in Yemen and stop handing the Israelis billions of American taxpayer dollars to commit genocide in occupied Palestine,” he said. 

“If the US did those two things there would be a much more peaceful Middle East or Muslim east as a result, but don't hold your breath because decadent empires often become rabid before they die. And that seems to be what's happening here in Washington,” he concluded.

Washington has stepped up calls for the extension of the UN arms embargo on Iran, which will expire in October under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The Trump administration has threatened that it may seek to trigger a snapback of all sanctions on Iran if its attempts to extend the arms embargo fail.

Tehran, however, has firmly rejected Washington’s plans as the US is no longer a party to the nuclear deal ever since it withdrew from the multilateral agreement in 2018.

China and Russia, which are both signatories to the JCPOA, echoed Tehran’s position in their recent statements.

“US failed to meet its obligations under Resolution 2231 by withdrawing from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” China’s UN mission said.

Also noting that Washington is in gross violation of Resolution 2231, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stressed that "no one is allowed to implement UNSC Security Council resolutions selectively and extremely fragmentarily".
Iran's FM to Address UNSC Meeting on Resolution 2231
Tuesday, 30 June 2020 12:33 AM

Participants at a virtual meeting of the UN Security Council hosted by Estonia on May 22, 2020 (Retrieved from Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is to address a virtual meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday in order to highlight the full implementation of Resolution 2231.

The Resolution 2231 is a UN Security Council resolution that enshrined the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), after it was concluded in 2015.

As one of the achievements of the deal, endorsed by the Resolution 2231, the UN’s arms embargo against the Islamic Republic of Iran is to be lifted by October 2020. However, the US is trying to prevent the removal of the arms embargo, even though it is no longer a JCPOA partner after it withdrew from the deal in 2018 and re-imposed the nuclear sanctions against Iran, which had been lifted as per the accord.

In a tweet on Monday night, Zarif took a swipe at the US for its efforts to strip Iran of the right to reap full benefits of the JCPOA despite remaining unilaterally committed to its obligations.

“The US isn't merely violating JCPOA and bullying others to do so, too. It also has dishonor of being first in UN history to punish law-abiding countries for NOT violating a Security Council resolution,” Zarif said.

“I will present Iran's case to the Council at about noon ET, Tuesday,” he added.

Earlier in the day, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said the United States has forfeited all rights to bring the JCPOA achievements into doubt, urging Washington and its European allies against trying to damage the agreement any further.

“The Americans, due to their destructive actions against the JCPOA and Resolution 2231, have lost the position to question the deal's achievements,” Mousavi told a press conference.

Mousavi critiqued Washington and its Western allies’ attitude towards Iran’s defensive capability as witnessed, among other things, in their bid to extend the embargo, calling their approach “inadmissible.”

The country “does not stand on ceremony when it comes to its defensive capability,” he added, and advised the allies to stop trying to violate the Resolution.

Extension of the arms embargo “carries its own repercussions,” the official said, warning that Tehran has planned several “special measures” to take in the event of the ban’s prolongation.

He, however, said, “We predict another defeat for the US in this area,” adding, “I don’t think things will proceed in such a way (as far as the embargo’s extension).”

On Monday, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook also reiterated his call for extending the expiring United Nations weapons embargo on the Islamic Republic, claiming that lifting the arms embargo on the country will trigger an arms race in the Middle East region.

US: Lifting arms embargo on Iran will trigger regional arms race
US: Lifting arms embargo on Iran will trigger regional arms race
US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook has said that lifting a UN arms embargo on Iran will trigger an arms race in the Middle East region.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir in Riyadh, Hook said lifting the ban would "only embolden" Iran and destabilize the region. 

"This is not an outcome that the UN Security Council can accept. The council's mandate is clear: to maintain international peace and security," Hook added.

Jubeir said, "Despite the embargo, Iran seeks to provide weapons to terrorist groups, so what will happen if the embargo is lifted? Iran will become more ferocious and aggressive.”

"We urge the international community to extend the embargo on selling arms to Iran and on Iran's ability to sell arms to the world," the Saudi foreign minister added.

The accusations come as the United States, the biggest arms exporter in the world, has been supporting a devastating Saudi-led war in Yemen, which the UN has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The Trump administration has threatened that it may seek to trigger a snapback of all sanctions on Iran if its attempts to extend the arms embargo fail.

Tehran, however, has firmly rejected Washington’s plans as the US is no longer a party to the nuclear deal ever since it withdrew from the multilateral agreement in 2018.

China and Russia, which are both signatories to the JCPOA, echoed Tehran’s position in their recent statements.
Al-Jaafari Calls for Putting an End to the Politicization of the Humanitarian File in Syria
29 June، 2020

New York, SANA-Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, called on the states that pledged and adhered to respecting the international law to put an end to the politicization of the humanitarian issue in Syria and support its efforts in the humanitarian and developmental domains, as well as to reject political conditions and dictates by some countries to hinder the reconstruction process and the return of the displaced.

“Some Security council member states have gone far in their hostility to Syria until they became fully helpless  to do any positive role regarding the situation in Syria and the region, and a good proof about that is the silence imposed on Security Council to turn it into a platform for NATO against Syria,” al-Jaafari said during a session for the Security council  on the situation in Syria via video conference.

He stressed that the Security Council should deal with the main reasons behind the crisis in Syria in order to find solutions to them in a way that should restore stability and improve the humanitarian situation and end the US-Turkish occupation and put an end to their crimes, including the destruction of infrastructure and looting the Syrian resources and burning the agriculture crops, in addition to supporting efforts of the Syrian state   and its allies to combat terrorism and immediately lift the unilateral coercive measures.

Al-Jaafari pointed out that the so called “co-penholders ” at the Security Council are preparing a draft resolution to extend the effects of resolution no.2165 concerning work beyond borders.

He reiterated Syria’s rejection of such resolutions, which are away from the humanitarian goals and the rules of resolution no. 46/182 which aims to serve the agenda of countries which are hostile to Syria and undermine Syria’s sovereignty and its territorial integrity, according to the politicized allegations of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs “OCHA” and its distorted reports.

He  addressed the representatives of NATO states at the Security Council, wondering, “Do you support the International Law and the UN Charter or support the Turkish, American and Israeli occupation to parts of Syria, adding “Do you respect what the Council’s resolutions had stipulated about Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity or do you support the efforts that aim at Turkification, dividing and continuity of destabilizing security and stability in the region.

Al-Jaafari added “Do you believe in the principles of humanitarian work, or besieging the Syrians, intimidating and fighting them in their livelihood and medication are easy things for you, as long as this serves the interests and agendas of some of you .

Al-Jaafari also wondered if they believe in the interests of combating terrorism and rescuing the civilians from the terrorist organizations’ control or if they believe that terrorism and the investment in it is desirable when it serves their agendas.

He wondered how those states explain their silence about Erdogan prevention of the Humanitarian convoys from arriving areas in Syria that he occupies, as the case for a convoy that was supposed to head for al-Atarib area and its surroundings, which was approved by Syria on April 14th and has not been  implemented by OCHA yet.

Al-Jaafari also asked If they prevented the Security Council from carrying out its basic responsibilities in maintaining international peace and security, what is the alternative international reference that can belong to  the principles and purposes of  the United nations.

“President of the Security Council’s invitation for perjuries to submit a briefing in front of the Council doesn’t serve the noble issue that it has been dealing with throughout more than 100 sessions and till now which represents deliberate misuse of its mechanism with the aim of misleading its members and distorting the facts”, Al-Jaafari concluded.

English bulletin/Mazen Eyon

Monday, June 29, 2020

Locals in Gharanij Town in Deir Ezzor Countryside Demonstrate Against Qasad Arbitrary Practices
29 June، 2020

Deir Ezzor, SANA- Locals in Gharanij town in Deir Ezzor eastern countryside staged demonstrations against Qasad groups (SDF) which are backed by the US occupation forces, condemning their arbitrary practices and measures.

 Local sources reported that Gharanij town in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor  witnessed demonstrations staged by the locals who demanded the release of their sons who have been kidnapped and stopping the arbitrary measures and state of chaos that the town lives in the presence of Qasad (SDF) groups, in addition to the acts of killings and pillaging oil by these groups and the companies that deal with them.

 The sources indicated that the demonstrators cut the main roads in Gharanij town and burned tires in it amid the closure of commercial shops.

On June 24th, the locals in Abu Hamam village in al-Bokmal region in the eastern countryside of the province staged demonstrations against Qasad groups (SDF) demanding to expel them from the area and put an end to their practices and confiscation of the locals’ properties, in addition to their acts of pillaging and smuggling the Syrian oil.

Nisreen Othman/ Ruaa al-Jazaeri
Demonstrations in Beirut in Protest Against the So-called “Caesar Act “
29 June، 2020

Beirut, SANA-  Lebanese people took to the streets in Beirut to condemn the US unilateral measures imposed on Syria and Lebanon, Particularly the so-called “Caesar Act”.

The Lebanese National News Agency and Al-Manar TV reported that Lebanese citizens gathered in Al-Mushrifiya in the southern suburbs of Beirut, condemning the US siege and the so-called terrorist “Caesar Act ” imposed on Syria and Lebanon.

Participants in the demonstration, which roamed a number of suburbs, raised slogans affirming the rejection of the siege and economic terrorist measures against Syria and Lebanon amid large deployment of the Lebanese army members.

Bushra Dabin/Mazen Eyon
A Protest in Qamishli Countryside Against US, Turkish Occupation Forces and in Rejection of So Called “Caesar Act”
29 June، 2020

Hasaka, SANA-Citizens of Bouyer al-Bouasi village in Qamishli countryside organized a protest against the US and Turkish occupation forces and in rejection of the so-called “Caesar Act”, affirming that it is a violation of all human norms and International laws.

SANA reporter in Hasaka said that the locals of Bouyer al-Bouasi village in Qamishli countryside organized a protest against the US and Turkish occupation forces, rejecting the so-called “Caesar Act” which is considered a new form of aggression against Syria, expressing confidence that Syria steadfastness as people, army and leadership, will foil the effects of this new aggression.

MHD Ibrahim/Mazen
Israeli Occupation Forces Arrest Ten Palestinians in the West Bank
29 June، 2020

Occupied Jerusalem, SANA-The Israeli occupation forces on Monday arrested ten Palestinians in different areas in the West Bank.

 Wafa News Agency reported that the occupation forces broke into al-Arroub camp in Hebron and the towns of Seida in Tulkarm and Silwad and Dora in Ramallah and arrested 10 Palestinians.

 On Sunday, the occupation forces arrested three Palestinians in the West Bank.

 Nisreen Othman/ Ruaa al-Jazaeri
US Sanctions Denounced as Plunder
A member of the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly said in a recent online interview that the act of the US, which plundered the assets of his country by imposing unilateral sanctions, constitutes a crime against the Venezuelan people.

Asserting the property the US administration seized from Venezuela amounts to tens of billions of dollars, he said that such pillage is backed up by the far-right reactionaries who represent the interests of the US and serve it.

The US is the ringleader which has already applied sanctions and embargo against anti-imperialist and independent countries including Venezuela for over 60 years and mapped out a plan to invade Venezuela nowadays by instigating mercenary soldiers, driving the regional situation to a catastrophe, he noted.

The Tragic Reality of Western-style Democracy
The United States loves to fertilize the human rights of other countries by making its country a human rights model.

But Sein has been resentful of such conduct in the United States.

The world's worst human rights violent country, which tramples man's rudimentary right to life and survivorship, is talking about other countries.

In the United States, the police, who are said to have been policing, are leading the way in alleged human rights abuses and social instability.

In recent years, the brutality of white police brutalitu murdering black men in enemy powers has been carried out in Minnesota.

As a result, popular anti-racism protests have spread throughout the country, including Minneapolis, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Denver. Protesters held relief plates with the words ``Breaking Out'' and ``Black People's Life is Important'', the last words of George Floyd, the victim of police violence, and a deep-rooted race. It exploded resentment and anger against the state system.

The problem is that this is not a pedan caused by the ``mistakes'' of individual police officers, but a tragic fruit created by ``Westernism, Democracy and Values'' that the country is not so proud of.

The obvious evidence is the murder of black people by white police, which continues in the United States every year.

According to recent foreign reports, in the United States, since 2010, the number of people killed by police has surpassed the number of people killed by poker or drug traffickers, and the risk of black people being killed by police is among other colored people. It is said to be 9 times higher than that. In fact, the number of blacks killed by police in the United States in 2015 was 1 134, setting a record high.

What can't be overlooked is the incredible fact that 99% of police who have killed blacks have never been subject to any legal sanctions.

For example, at the end of November 2012, two black men and women who were driving in a car were killed by police, killing dozens of bullets and killing them instantly, and in August 2014, they killed a black youth in a redemptive power and killed the Ferguson. The main culprit, the police, was sentenced to prosecution.

In particular, 18 police officers who were brutally murdered and brutally killed black George Floyd at Minneapolis were arrested in the past for 18 cases, but only two cases were briefly handled by written investigations, and there were no penalties for the rest. Also, along with him, three other police officers who participated in the Floyd murder are said to have been involved in several attempts to commit black murders and assaults over the past decade.

At some point in time, a court in the United States was infuriated by murdering fifteen years of murder and inflicting an absurd ruling on ``doing a good job in 500 hours'' to a convicted police officer.

What matters even more is the current judicial system in the United States that charges the police for indulgence. According to him, the United States lacks a uniform system of control over police action. It is said that the government of the Union is only able to find out about the murders involving the police through reports from the relevant police station, and that the report is based on volunteerism, not obligation. In other words, this means that it is okay to report a few months after the incident or not at all.

This is the essence of the American justice system, which is said to be based on so-called "fairness" and "justice," and the American political system divided into "freedom" and "democracy."

As long as a reactionary and anti-popular social system exists in the United States, racial discrimination and vicious anti-human rights acts cannot go away anytime.

Nevertheless, it is pitiful to have a 《Dragon Dream》 to make it a world of the West, modeled on the liberal democracy enjoyed by America in the next century.

There is something to be noticed by the American passengers who have become habitual to keep the others out of their minds and not to think about it.

Humanity never wishes for a society where what is seen as unrighteousness, lawlessness in the eyes of the people is regarded as justice, rule of law, and human life is less than a few hundred dollars, and even such life is graded and precious according to race. Does not.

In the past century, in the present century, and in the next century, there is no change in humanity's intention.

Hye-Jung Kim, Head of International Research Institute