Time to build a wall around White House

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion Now if he could do a rewrite and bring the text down to about the fourth-grade level (sorry fourth-graders), perhaps the “gullibles” — both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and House — would take the hint and stand strong, rather than cower, and indeed finance building a wall.Twelve inches thick, reinforced concrete, 18-feet high, 10-foot-deep footers, totally surrounding the White House. No windows, no gates.Toss food over the wall, just enough to keep the “dingbats” enclosed alive until the next election.Then, Chuck and Mitch, let’s get on with the nation’s business.Robert NessleJohnsburgMore from The Daily Gazette:Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsCuomo calls for clarity on administering vaccineFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen? George Will never iterated my brand of social thought or governance. However, I often read his pieces because he uses the language superbly, and his logic, as we read in the Oct. 15 piece, is often indisputable.last_img read more

Indonesia readies plans for post-quarantine period: Health Ministry

first_imgThe government is saying it has prepared several scenarios for after the 14-day quarantine for the 243 people evacuated from Wuhan and other Chinese cities on Sunday to Raden Sadjad airbase in Natuna, Riau Islands, including a possible extension of the quarantine period and evacuation for those who require further medical treatment.The Health Ministry’s disease control and prevention director general, Anung Sugihantono, said if no single evacuee exhibits respiratory disorders or other symptoms related to the coronavirus infection, they would be immediately released after the two-week observation period as the people who were rescued on Sunday had received clearance from Chinese authorities.However, options are on the table if some people need further medical treatment following signs of coronavirus infection, he said. The government evacuated 243 people – 237 Indonesian citizens and a foreigner, plus five Foreign Ministry officials – from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, and other cities on Sunday, using Batik Air Airbus A-330 airplane flying from China to Hang Nadim International Airport in Batam, Riau Islands, before transferring them on three separate Indonesian Military (TNI) flight to Natuna.The number was less than the 245 people originally planned to be taken out of China, as four people were unwilling to leave and three people were declared sick at the time of departure and did not receive clearance from the Chinese government to leave the country.The death toll from the virus in China climbed to 362 as of Monday, Johns Hopkins CSSE reported, exceeding the 349 fatalities in China following the 2002 and 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak.As of Monday, no cases of infection have been observed in Indonesia, Anung said, with lab test results from 34 people – seven foreigners and 27 Indonesians – showing negative for the coronavirus. “We could extend [the quarantine period] or relocate [the patient] to a more specific place to receive treatment,” Anung told reporters in Jakarta on Monday. “A hospital in Natuna was already prepared but we also anticipate if – hopefully, such a thing will not happen – [the evacuees] need to be relocated to Jakarta should they require such treatment.”As of 8 a.m. on Monday, no returnees – including the flight crew who picked up the evacuees from China – had shown symptoms of coronavirus infection, Health Ministry spokesperson Widyawati said.Health workers continue to periodically examine the conditions of the evacuees at least twice a day, while the government had also made arrangements to ensure the comfort of the evacuees during their two-week quarantine.“According to the last information, our [evacuees] friends cannot communicate with their families because they still use a Chinese telecommunications operator [in their phones]. We are working to set up a wifi network today so that they could communicate with their families,” said Anung.center_img Editor’s note: Paragraph eight of this article has been edited.Topics :last_img read more

Obama absent from Democratic White House race but looming large

first_img“The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it,” Obama told a fund-raising meeting in November.Though he did not single out a particular candidate, he said most voters did not have the same views as “the activist wing of our party” — a veiled warning about the shift to the left promised by Bernie Sanders.”Obama is extremely popular within the Democratic Party, and particularly with African-Americans, a key voting bloc in many states” including South Carolina, said Kyle Kondik, an analyst at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.”I can understand why candidates would want to make it seem as though he is backing them.” For someone who has gone out of his way to stay off the political radar, Barack Obama could hardly loom larger over the bitter battle for the Democratic White House nomination.The 44th president of the United States has been quoted dozens of times in primary debates and starred (unwittingly) in campaign ads in the run-up to the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday.But Obama has so far strictly adhered to his pledge to remain out of the fray in terms of endorsing a particular candidate — though he has launched a few warnings from the sidelines during the primary process. What about Bernie? Of course, no one is using his connection with the nation’s first black president more arduously than Joe Biden, Obama’s vice president who is seeking a boost to his flagging campaign to take on President Donald Trump.Biden is “running as Obama’s understudy and heir,” Kondik said. The pair spoke on Tuesday ahead of the South Carolina contest, which is vital to Biden’s chances, The New York Times reported.But Sanders is riding high as the frontrunner, and the party’s moderates are nervous about the 78-year-old senator’s chances against the Republican incumbent.”The establishment is freaking out,” blared CNN. “Running Bernie Sanders Against Trump Would Be an Act of Insanity,” concluded a column in New York magazine.Nevertheless, next week’s Super Tuesday contests could leave Sanders with a virtually unassailable lead.”If there is a way to stop — or at least slow — Sanders, most Democratic insiders are convinced it’s this: former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama get behind an alternative candidate to the Vermont senator,” CNN commentator Chris Cilizza wrote this week.”Not only that, but the Obamas make their endorsements soon — like pre-Super Tuesday — and they urge all of the other candidates to get out of the race ASAP.”Back in November, Politico reported that Obama planned to make a public statement if Sanders got too far out in front, in a bid to block him from winning the nomination. ‘No plans to endorse’If Obama did speak out, his opinion would resonate, but few think that will happen.”President Obama has several friends in this race, including, of course, his own esteemed vice president,” his spokeswoman Katie Hill said this week in a statement.”He has said he has no plans to endorse in the primary because he believes that in order for Democrats to be successful this fall, voters must choose their nominee.”In 2016, Obama threw his weight behind Hillary Clinton, his onetime secretary of state, only when it became clear that she would beat Sanders for the nomination.But the former US leader has made his views known on elections abroad, formally endorsing Emmanuel Macron in France and Justin Trudeau in Canada during their campaigns.The rare comment from Obama’s spokeswoman came as part of a condemnation of what she called a “despicable ad” from a pro-Trump PAC in which Obama’s comments were taken “out of context” to disparage Biden.center_img Would Obama speak for Sanders? But he has stayed silent about the many Democrats using his speeches in their ads in a bid to imply they have his support.Biden of course has leveraged their friendship and partnership, but billionaire Michael Bloomberg, progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg have also sought to associate themselves with Obama’s legacy in some way.And all of them have quoted him to back up their policy positions.”As Barack Obama said, we should pay attention to where the voters of this country are. And spending nearly $60 trillion is not where they are,” tweeted moderate presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar, as she bashed Sanders’ platform.Former presidents generally shy away from endorsing candidates after they leave office, with the notable exception of Bill Clinton — who backed his wife in the 2008 and 2016 primaries, Kondik explained.”I have no idea if Obama might endorse, but there has been no indication that he will. He, like many other Democrats, may honestly be conflicted about who he might back,” the analyst added.But if Sanders goes on to win the nomination, Kondik said he would be “curious to see whether Obama will speak” at the party’s nominating convention in July. Topics :last_img read more

COVID-19: Advocacy groups call for law enforcement to refrain from putting people in jail

first_imgJakarta, for example, has eight penitentiaries and detention centers that jointly hold 18,531 inmates, far higher than the total capacity of 5,791 prisoners, according to data updated on March 9 from the Law and Human Rights Ministry’s Correctional Facilities Directorate General. That means an overcrowding rate of 320 percent.With 675 COVID-19 patients as of Sunday, the capital city has been dubbed the national epicenter of the outbreak.”Under the current conditions, we should avoid imprisoning people as best as we can,” the advocacy groups’ statement said on Monday. “This is a good step toward using a restorative justice concept.”Read also: Overcrowded and understaffed, prisons scramble to protect inmates from infectionThe World Health Organization (WHO) has made a similar recommendation, encouraging countries around the world to reduce the number of inmates to prevent a massive spread of the contagious respiratory illness.The groups also called on judges to choose rehabilitation for drug convicts over imprisonment, as drug offense was the country’s top criminal act brought to trials. “Based on their assessment and a recommendation from doctors and labs, judges can decide to order rehabilitation,” the statement reads.The request was in line with measures taken by the government regarding arrest procedures. Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly sent a letter on March 24 to the Supreme Court chief justice requesting that the judicial body put suspects under house arrest or city arrest instead of imprisoning them at penitentiaries, citing Article 22 of the Criminal Law Procedures Code. The minister also sought to temporarily stop people from visiting the penitentiaries, extend terms of imprisonment and conduct trials via online video conference.The Supreme Court issued on Saturday an instruction to proceed with trials via teleconference. Attorney General’s Office spokesperson Hari Setiyono told the Post that “trials could proceed via teleconference.” (dfr)Topics : “If someone is subject to arrest, his family can pay a sum of money as a guarantee that he will not run away.”The request came in light of the growing number of coronavirus cases in Indonesia. Both government and advocacy groups have highlighted the need for preventive measures against the fast-spreading respiratory illness in penitentiary facilities.As of Monday afternoon Indonesia has reported 1,414 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 122 fatalities.Three members of the coalition, namely the ICJR, the Research and Advocacy Institute of Court Independence (LeIP) and Indonesian Judicial Research Society (IJRS) also emphasized in a separate statement that “the overcrowding issue and the spread of COVID-19 make penitentiaries not a safe place” to have people serving their prison terms. A coalition of legal watchdogs has urged law enforcement to temporarily refrain from putting more people in penitentiaries to help slow the spread of COVID-19.Law enforcement could instead use a bail system for light offenses and criminal acts without victims or violence, according to the Justice Monitoring Coalition, which comprises 16 legal advocacy groups.“It is essentially a suspension,” Erasmus Napitupulu, executive director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), which is grouped under the coalition, told The Jakarta Post on Monday.last_img read more

Coronavirus: Why have so many died in New York?

first_imgGovernor Andrew Cuomo has said repeatedly that density and number of foreign visitors made New York City, which has almost 93,000 confirmed cases, an ideal breeding ground for infectious disease.America’s financial capital has 8.6 million inhabitants. There are 10,000 people per square kilometer, making it the densest city in the US.Millions of commuters brush up against each other on its packed subway system every day, while keeping distance on its sometimes narrow sidewalks can be difficult.NYC gets more than 60 million tourists a year and is the entry point to America for many travelers, meaning anyone carrying the virus is likely to start infecting others there first.  American geneticists estimate that it started spreading there from Europe in February, before New York’s first confirmed case on March 1. The Big Apple is also characterized by massive socioeconomic inequality. Overcrowded, deprived areas — particularly in the Bronx and Queens, where many people already suffer health problems and lack medical care — have experienced the highest rate of infections.”New York City had all the preconditions that would support the idea that it was going to be hit very hard,” said Irwin Redlener, public health professor and expert in disaster preparedness at Columbia University.Did officials underestimate risk? On March 2, as the state’s second case was confirmed in New Rochelle, just north of New York City, Cuomo said the health care system was the best “on the planet.””We don’t even think it’s going to be as bad as it was in other countries,” he added.After much hesitation, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the closure of public schools, bars and restaurants from March 16.The governor ordered all non-essential businesses to close and residents to stay at home a week later on March 22.Experts hesitate to say that they waited too long.”The mayor and the governor were being pushed and pulled by two opposing forces. “One was saying we have to close schools and restaurants as quickly as possible, the other saying there were lots of economic and social consequences of shutting down everything early,” said Redlener.”Everyone was getting mixed messages, including from the federal government, from (President Donald) Trump,” he added.Have other states reacted better? California, America’s most populous state, is often cited as a good example for the speed of its response to the outbreak. Its confirmed cases as of Friday were just 20,200, with 550 deaths.On March 16, six counties in the San Francisco Bay area issued a stay-at-home order followed by the whole state three days later.”One thing that I think is significant is that six neighboring counties got together and issued the same (confinement) order for all six counties, and they did it early,” said Meghan McGinty, associate at school of public health of Johns Hopkins University.”There was consistency, as opposed to NYC taking one measure, and Westchester (county) taking another, and Long Island taking another,” she told AFP.Six days passed between New York’s school closure order and its order confining residents to their homes.”In epidemic terms, six days is light years and can really make a difference in the control and spread of the epidemic, so I think it is possible to say that perhaps, in retrospect, New York waited too long,” said McGinty.Is anyone to blame? When the crisis passes, the blame game may begin.Democrats Cuomo and de Blasio deplored for weeks the Trump administration’s delay in getting tests to states, which to this day are still not arriving in sufficient numbers.The New York officials also targeted the federal government for dragging its heels in implementing emergency powers to manufacture lifesaving ventilators.With the toll far exceeding the numbers killed on 9/11, Phil Murphy, the governor of neighboring New Jersey, which has also been badly affected, has called for a commission similar to the one set up to investigate the September 11, 2001 attacks.”The warning signs were there… what happened? If you don’t know the answer, how are you going to make sure it’s not going to happen again?” Cuomo asked Friday.Given the number of dead and millions of unemployed, “we have a moral obligation to study this pandemic,” concluded McGinty.Topics : New York has more coronavirus cases than any country and accounts for around half of all deaths in the United States. Why was is so badly hit and could its leaders have done anything differently?Was New York more vulnerable? As of Friday, New York state has almost 160,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections, more than Europe’s worst-hit countries of Spain and Italy, and over 7,800 deaths.last_img read more

Papua administration denies governor in Jakarta for coronavirus treatment

first_imgLukas visited Gatot Subroto Regional General Hospital (RSPAD) in Central Jakarta for his medical checkup, he added.Rumors emerged on Tuesday afternoon that Lukas was ill and had flown to Jakarta to seek treatment after reports said that the governor had chartered an airplane to visit the capital.Ridwan emphasized that Lukas had been tested for COVID-19 in March and the result came back negative.Lukas left Papua on Monday night because he had to finish several documents related to the COVID-19 response in Papua, he added. The Papua administration has said that Governor Lukas Enembe flew in the early hours of Tuesday to Jakarta for a scheduled medical checkup, dismissing rumors that he had contracted COVID-19.Ridwan Rumasukun, the Papua administration’s acting secretary, said that Lukas flew to Jakarta using a chartered plane with his doctor and some family members.”He was supposed to go for a medical checkup last week but he was unable to do that due to his tight schedule,” Ridwan said in a press conference on Tuesday. “The governor used a chartered plane because there is no commercial flight to and from Papua since the region implemented physical and social distancing policy to contain COVID-19,” he said.Papua has restricted entry into the province by sea and air to stem the spread of COVID-19 in Indonesia’s easternmost region, which, as of Tuesday, had recorded 68 positive cases of COVID-19 with three fatalities.The country’s official tally is currently at least 4,839 confirmed cases with 459 deaths across the archipelago.Papua’s COVID-19 task force head Silvanus Simule concurred with Ridwan, saying that Lukas departed to Jakarta for a routine medical checkup, not seeking treatment for COVID-19.”The governor has taken a PCR test and the result was negative. He will practice 14 days self-quarantine after returning from Jakarta,” Silvanus said. (nal)Topics :last_img read more

Bali hamlet put under lockdown after tests indicate over 400 people ‘reactive’ to virus

first_imgBangli regency subsequently decided to put the hamlet under lockdown to prevent the virus from further spreading. With residents no longer allowed to leave the area, authorities prepared on Friday public kitchens within the hamlet to serve food.”Starting Thursday, Serokadan hamlet in Abuan village is isolated, closed. No one is allowed to enter or leave the hamlet,” he said.The rapid tests in Abuan village took place following findings that eight of the village’s residents contracted the virus through local transmission after reportedly coming into contact with a migrant worker who had just returned from abroad but ignored self-quarantine protocol.Medical workers were set to continue with more rapid testing on Friday, targeting tests on more than 2,600 residents in the village. Serokadan hamlet in Abuan village, Bangli regency, located in the central part of Bali, was put under lockdown on Thursday after rapid tests indicated it was probable that hundreds of its residents were infected by the coronavirus. The Bali provincial COVID 19 task force team took 1,200 blood samples from residents of the hamlet on Thursday, of which more than 400 returned “reactive” results after rapid testing.”We have followed up the rapid test results by taking swab samples for further PCR [polymerase chain reaction] tests to get accurate results on whether they are positive for COVID-19 or not. Of course, we will use the swab test results as the final results,” the task force’s executive chairman, Dewa Made Indra, said. Some 200 residents of Padang Kerta village in Karangasem regency also took part in COVID-19 rapid testing after authorities found that six villagers tested positive for the coronavirus.The infected villagers were identified following contact tracing of a migrant worker who tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from overseas.“We have conducted rapid tests in Padang Kerta village. So far, we found 12 people with ‘reactive’ results,” Dewa Made Indra said.Read also: Indonesia’s strategy to end COVID-19 outbreak lacks effectiveness: StudyBali, which has seen its tourism plummet due to the pandemic, has thus far recorded at least 235 coronavirus cases with four fatalities, according to the central government’s official tally on Friday.At least eight of the infected people on the resort island are foreigners, while some 137 cases were imported. The province recorded 57 cases as a result of local transmission.Concerns have been raised over Balinese migrant workers who returned home from abroad, including those employed on international cruise liners, as 134 out of 137 imported cases were those of migrant workers who returned to Bali.More than 10,000 migrant workers have reportedly returned to the island since March. Authorities said thousands more workers might come home soon.It is estimated that around 20,000 Balinese are working abroad, mostly in tourism as crew members of cruise ships.Bali has implemented special protocol in handling the influx of migrant workers, including by providing special quarantine facilities in hotels and government compounds.Before the new protocol was implemented, the government allowed migrant workers from overseas to return home provided they self-quarantine. Several migrant workers, however, reportedly ignored health protocols, putting local residents at risk.Topics :last_img read more

Hong Kong police arrest more than 200 as pro-democracy protests return

first_imgImages beamed live from the working class district of Mong Kok showed riot police pushing back some reporters and firing pepper spray amid chaotic scenes.Footage showed protesters being subdued on the ground, scuffles and people bleeding.Police fired pepper spray at journalists and activists, and conducted stop and search operations on members of the public and media.The Hong Kong Journalists’ Association (HKJA) said some members of the press were prevented from filming. Hong Kong authorities arrested more than 200 people during pro-democracy protests, media reported on Monday, after a sing-along demonstration at a shopping mall spilled out on to the streets of the Chinese-ruled city.Hundreds of riot police were deployed to disperse the protesters on Sunday, with some members of the media caught up in the chaos that evoked memories of the sometimes violent unrest that rocked the global financial hub last year.Several media outlets, citing sources, said more than 200 people were arrested. Police said they could not confirm the number. The Hospital Authority said 18 people were taken to hospital. “Some journalists who were sprayed by pepper spray were not allowed to receive immediate treatment, and they were requested to stop filming,” said Chris Yeung, chairman of the HKJA.Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.The outbreak of coronavirus and strict rules to curb its spread had brought a relative lull in anti-government protests this year, but the recent arrest of democracy activists and renewed concern about Beijing’s tightening grip on the city have revived the movement.Police in riot gear told protesters they were staging an illegal assembly and violating anti-virus measures that bar gatherings of more than eight people.Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong was arrested for “disorderly conduct in a public place”, police said.Video footage showed Kwong apparently being pushed to the ground and then surrounded by officers. He was later taken to hospital after he said he was feeling unwell.The financial hub is gearing up for protests over the next few months, with activists calling for two million people to gather for an annual march on July 1 that marks the anniversary of its handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997. center_img Topics :last_img read more

Religious Affairs Ministry issues protocol for reopening houses of worship

first_imgThe circular also requires the implementation of rigorous health procedures, including the deployment of special personnel in charge of monitoring physical distancing and the installation of sanitation facilities at the entrances and exits of all houses of worship.In addition, building managers are required to track the number of visitors at any given time to ensure physical distancing measures are adhered to.“Children and elderly individuals who are vulnerable to diseases should be forbidden from praying at houses of worship,” the circular reads.The circular also states that, in the case of special public events held at houses of worship, such as weddings, building managers are required to limit the number of visitors to no more than 30 people, or 20 percent of the building’s capacity. In addition, all attendees must test negative for COVID-19.Indonesians have turned to virtual congregations in recent months with houses of worship temporarily closed. However, the outbreak has not stopped many mosques from hosting congregational prayers, including mass Idul Fitri prayers.According to the official government count, Indonesia had at least 26,473 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,613 deaths as of Sunday.Topics : The Religious Affairs Ministry has issued new guidelines for houses of worship, which are set to reopen soon as part of the so-called “new normal” after being closed for weeks due to the COVID-19 outbreak.In a circular issued on Friday, Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi said the new guidelines were in response to people’s desire to pray at their respective houses of worship. The guidelines would still comply with prevailing health procedures to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.“Houses of worship must set the best example on curbing the spread of COVID-19,” Fachrul said. The circular states that houses of worship may only reopen if the COVID-19 basic reproduction number, R0 or R-naught, as well as its effective reproduction number, Rt, in their respective areas are below a certain threshold.Houses of worship that want to reopen must obtain a letter confirming that the area is “safe from COVID-19” from their local COVID-19 task force.The letter may be revoked if new COVID-19 cases are found in the area surrounding the house of worship or if the house of worship is found to have violated the guidelines.Large houses of worship that regularly receive visitors from other regions may request special permission from their respective regional heads.last_img read more

European rights court faults Russia over website blocking

first_imgEurope’s top rights court said Tuesday that Russian authorities had thwarted freedom of expression by blocking several websites in recent years, including some run by critics of President Vladimir Putin.In four separate cases, the judges ruled unanimously that moves by the telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor “had amounted to interference with the applicants’ right to impart information and the public’s right to receive it.”One of the cases was filed by Garry Kasparov, the former chess champion who has become one of Putin’s most vocal critics. His opposition website kasparov.ru was blocked in March 2014 after prosecutors accused it of promoting “mass disorder or extremist speech,” the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said.Five other applicants alleged unfair or indiscriminate moves to shut down their sites, including Daily Newspaper, a site critical of the government, and a website that explained how to bypass internet content filters.In each case, the court found, “the provisions of Russia’s Information Act used to block the websites had produced excessive and arbitrary effects.”It ordered Russia to pay each applicant 10,000 euros ($11,300) in damages.Kasparov had already won two cases against Russia at the ECHR in 2016, when judges condemned the government for unjustified arrests while attending opposition protests in 2007.Topics :last_img read more