United States President Donald Trump said on Thursday that people voting by mail should go to the polls to ensure their ballots were counted
Trump was speaking toa day after controversial remarks in which he suggested voting twice.
“On Election Day, or Early Voting, go to your Polling Place to see whether or not your Mail In Vote has been Tabulated (Counted).
““If it has, you will not be able to Vote & the Mail In System worked properly. If it has not been Counted, VOTE (which is a citizen’s right to do).”
During a visit to North Carolina on Wednesday, the president suggested voters cast ballots twice.
“”Let them send it in and let them go vote and if their system’s as good as they say it is they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote,” he told local television channel WCET.
Under United States law, someone voting more than once could be fined 10,000 dollars or be imprisoned for up to five years.
Such an action would also be a felony in North Carolina and other states.
Trump has argued repeatedly that mail-in ballots are vulnerable to voter fraud, though there is no clear evidence to support the idea.
Many United States voters are expected to cast their ballots by mail instead of going to a polling station in the November presidential election due to concerns about coronavirus contagion.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Borussia Moenchengladbach boosted their hopes of winning a first Bundesliga title since 1977 after they secured a 3-1 win at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
Early goals from Alassane Plea and Marcus Thuram helped them to the away win on this return to the competition after the break induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moenchengladbach, who went 2-0 up in seven minutes before adding another through Ramy Bensebaini’s penalty kick in the second half, moved up one place to third after 26 games.
They are on 52 points, three behind champions and leaders Bayern Munich who visit Union Berlin on Sunday.
Frankfurt, who have now lost four league games in a row, slipped one place to 13th on 28 points after getting a rude awakening after a two-month break.
Plea fired the visitors ahead after 40 seconds when he slid in to steer the ball past goalkeeper Kevin Trapp into the far corner after exchanging a one-two with Jonas Hofmann.
Thuram added the second with a simple tap-in from two metres into an empty net after a low cross from the left by Bensebaini.
Plea then missed several chances as he was denied by Trapp three times.
He also hit the woodwork with a rasping shot, before he won a penalty kick for the visitors when he was bundled over in the 73rd minute.
Bensebaini converted the spot kick before half-time substitute Andre Silva netted a late consolation for the home side with a fine shot from inside the penalty area.
Hofmann was guilty of an astonishing miss in the dying minutes.
He rounded Trapp and had the goal at his mercy but dwelled on the ball and allowed Martin Hinteregger to clear his shot off the line.
Like the day’s early fixtures, the match was played with no spectators present as the Bundesliga sprung back into action.
Moenchengladbach are at home to Bayer Leverkusen in the next round of matches while Eintracht Frankfurt visit Bayern Munich.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)
At a virtual meeting of all World Trade Organization (WTO) members on Thursday, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo announced that he would step down on Aug. 31, cutting his second term short by exactly one year.
Analysts have said that after the paralyzing of the WTO's Appellate Body, Azevedo's early departure might once again diminish confidence in the multilateral trading system.
The Appellate Body, which reviews appeals of dispute cases and is normally composed of seven members, has been unable to hear any new cases since Dec. 11, 2019, as it only has one judge left due to a repeated blockage of the nomination of its members by the United States.
WHY LEAVE EARLY?
"It is a personal decision -- a family decision -- and I am convinced that this decision serves the best interests of this organization," Azevedo said, adding that his decision is not health-related or aiming to pursue any political opportunities.
He said that his premature departure would allow members to select his successor in the coming months, without diverting political energy and attention from preparations for the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference set to be held in 2021.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly slowed down many WTO activities. "This offers us a window to launch the selection process with less impact than usual on our work," he said.
The WTO chief plays a key role in the group's functioning. According to the organization's structure, all agencies of the WTO Secretariat are responsible to the director-general.
Specifically, the WTO head, in addition to appointing staff of the Secretariat and leading the body, is responsible for submitting the WTO's annual budget and financial reports to the WTO Committee on Budget, Finance and Administration.
Some analysts have pointed out that the Secretariat without a director-general will become a "caretaker government," making it difficult to accomplish anything.
Citing "a bigger role to play" for the director-general, Lu Xiankun, managing director of consulting institution LEDECO Geneva which is in close collaboration with international organizations, said that the WTO head also plays a vital role in ensuring the normal functioning of the dispute settlement mechanism.
In the daily routine, the chief can also convene informal meetings, listen to members' opinions, and advance WTO-related work, Lu added.
Born in 1957, Azevedo was first appointed WTO head in 2013 for a four-year term. In 2017, WTO members re-appointed him for a second term, which would end on Aug. 31, 2021.
Lu said that Azevedo's early departure may also be related to the current situation of the WTO.
Noting the organization is "in deep trouble," Lu said the three major functions of dispute settlement, multilateral trade negotiations and trade policy monitoring are hindered. Trade conflicts between major economies have occurred, differences among members have widened, and the group's own reforms seem to be in the middle of nowhere, he said.
SELECTING A NEW CHIEF
Azevedo said that in accordance with relevant WTO regulations, the General Council should start the selection process for the new chief as soon as possible.
The selection process normally would be initiated nine months before the end of the current director-general's term. It lasts about half a year and is generally divided into three stages.
First, WTO members should nominate candidates within one month after the start of the process. Then, the candidates have three months to introduce themselves to WTO members, and express opinions on related issues facing the organization. Finally, the General Council narrows down the scope of candidates through consultations, and makes the appointment decision.
Currently, with about three months left before Azevedo's departure, the selection of the director-general will not be able to proceed in accordance with normal procedures. If the candidate cannot be confirmed by Aug. 31, the General Council should appoint one of the current deputy director-generals as acting chief until the appointment of a new chief.
At present, there are four deputy director-generals, namely, Yonov Frederick Agah of Nigeria, Karl Brauner of Germany, Alan Wolff of the United States and Yi Xiaozhun of China.
Some analysts have pointed out that the WTO is a member-driven, consensus-based organization, and decision-making power is mostly in the hands of members. Therefore, Azevedo's early departure has more symbolic than substantial impact on WTO work.
Behind the protective masks, doctors and nurses at Evaggelismos general hospital in Athens these days are smiling.
With 1,000 beds and about 3,000 personnel, the largest public hospital in Greece, located a few steps away from the Greek parliament, has reflected so far the effective battle against the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Greece, a country of 11 million people, has counted 130 deaths and 2,506 infections since Feb. 26 when the first case was confirmed, the health ministry said on Saturday.
The government's decisiveness to impose quickly draconian containment measures and the responsible behavior of Greeks are identified as the main factors of the success by many experts.
Doctors and nurses in the frontline of the fight at Evaggelismos, one of the 13 referral hospitals nationwide announced by the government to receive COVID-19 patients, confirmed this when giving a tour to Xinhua on Friday.
They stressed, however, that there should be no complacency and hospitals should be prepared for the next wave and challenges.
EARLY, PROMPT PREPARATION
Spyros Zakynthinos, Director of the ICU and President of the Hellenic Thoracic Society, is proud of the track record so far.
None of the doctors, nurses, administrative staff, security and cleaning personnel has been infected with the novel coronavirus at Evaggelismos, he told Xinhua.
In addition, fatality rates are far lower compared to the statistics given by countries with stronger healthcare systems.
So far, 50 patients have been admitted to Evaggelismos' ICU. The ten who died were elderly with many underlying health problems, while 25 have been discharged from the ICU and another six will follow soon, Zakynthinos said.
He attributes the success to the prompt preparation of the system more than a month before they received their first patient in the ICU on March 11.
Evaggelismos had 50 beds in the ICU in February and currently has 80. In the past two months, 120 nurses and paramedic personnel were hired at the hospital.
The number of intensive care unit beds across the country stood at 565 in February and has almost doubled to 1,004 today, government spokesperson Stelios Petsas said last week, adding that 3,131 doctors and nurses have been hired to boost understaffed hospitals.
"The ICU of Evaggelismos had been prepared extensively. During the pandemic, we have doubled the beds so that we can cope better with the needs. Fortunately, we needed only half of the beds. It seems that currently we have left behind the pandemic's peak and we have reached a stage when fewer people are admitted here," he said.
Three weeks ago, the people reaching the hospital were in the dozens. In the past week, the number has dropped to 2 to 3 patients every other day.
"Without the implementation of measures in Greece, we would have some 50,000 fatalities," Zakynthinos said.
"The virus' contagiousness is unprecedented. A person can infect at least 4 people within a week and another 400 in 15 days. One, two, three persons can do great damage in a country," he explained.
COMMUNICATION KEY IN TREATMENT
In addition to the ICU beds, Evaggelismos' special COVID-19 clinic has 100 beds. At the peak, more than 50 people were being treated. Now the number has halved. Pulmonologist Evangelos Ballis is the director of the clinic.
"When they first arrive they are anxious... There is fear, but along with this fear there is also significant discipline on patients' part and hence there is good cooperation," he told Xinhua.
Communication is key in the treatment, he explained. They are trying to give courage to the patients and their families to fight panic attacks and depression.
"You can't touch people to give them courage... We are trying to explain where they are and what we expect will happen in the coming days," Ballis said.
Restrictions regarding physical contact make the situation very difficult for doctors and nurses also when it comes to communication with their own families, he added.
"We all have people in our households who are elderly and vulnerable. Many of us do not stay home anymore. This is what affects us and pains us most, that we have to keep distances from our loved ones and we do not see them a lot," the doctor said.
Ballis reiterated the plea to the public to not let its guard down and continue observing social distancing, even once the full nationwide lockdown which started on March 23 in Greece ends on May 4, as announced.
The sacrifices made should not go to waste, he stressed.
"You try to be trained on how to protect yourself and the others and you are doing your best, because that is what the medical staff is always doing, the best possible for the patient without discounts in healthcare," Anastasia Karagiorgou, the head nurse at Evaggelismos' ICU said.
As Greece is planning the day after the gradual lifting of restrictions, she underlines that the national health system should be supported further to be ready for the worse and meet also the needs of other patients -- who had to stay home for weeks waiting for the rescheduling of canceled appointments for operations and tests.
"We responded very well. The medical staff, nurse and doctors must be reinforced," Karagiorgou said, calling for the government's attention to the welfare of medical staff.
Greek authorities said Wednesday that seven new cases of COVID-19 have been reported across the country over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 2,408 with 121 deaths.
This is the first time the newly confirmed daily caseload in Greece has dropped below 10, after 48 consecutive days of 10-plus cases per day since the outbreak on Feb. 26. It's also the first day that no death has been reported since March 14.
Greece has a population of 11 million, of which over 25 percent is over 60 years of age, making it the second-oldest in the EU, only behind Italy.
Due to a decade of austerity demanded in return for rescue loans from international lenders to keep the country afloat, Greece's public health expenses were cut by three quarters. Many doctors went to other countries to find a career. When the epidemic broke out in the country, it had only 560 intensive care beds, which means 5.2 beds per 100,000 people, the lowest in the EU.
Experts and international media pointed out that early response has been one advantage Greece has gained in the fight against the virus.
Greece was an early adopter of "social distancing" strategies. The first case occurred on Feb. 26, when the government canceled all the carnivals nationwide for the coming few days. On March 3, the government implemented the first batch of targeted restrictions. On March 10, the authorities shut down all schools and universities, followed by closure of law courts, theaters, cinemas, culture events venues, clubs and gyms on March 12, when the first death in Greece was announced.
The Greek government appointed Sotiris Tsiodras, a Greek specialist on infectious diseases, as spokesperson for the Greek health ministry for the epidemic in early February, and formed a committee of epidemiologists and doctors to advise on the control of the virus spread.
The government, led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announced a national lockdown on March 23, and extended it lately to April 27. Those who violated the measure face a minimum 150 euro fine. On the first day and a half after the lockdown announce, Greek police imposed nearly 800 fines to individuals who violated the measure.
Panagiotis Behrakis, a Greek pulmonologist-intensivist, attributed the country's success in the virus fight largely to the government's early response and intervention with great decisiveness "which was proved life saving."
"(The Greek government) implemented measures of prevention at the right time and this in combination with the very positive acceptance the measures received by the Greek public, leading to the excellent result we have today," Behrakis told Xinhua in an interview on Wednesday.
Most Greeks' obedience to the government advice to remain indoors is also seen as key to Greece's temporary success to contain the virus.
"Greeks have been through crisis; they know what it is. I think that also enabled them to adapt and be stoic," Alex Patelis, economic adviser to the Greek government, told The Guardian in a recent interview, noting that the Greek economic meltdown did indeed play a role in its virus fight.
Greek authorities announced on Tuesday that more than 150 asylum seekers in a hotel in Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece have tested positive for COVID-19. A total of 470 asylum seekers, mainly from Africa, were staying at the hotel which is used as a refugee accommodation facility.
Greece now accommodates over 70,000 asylum seekers and more than 38,800 were in overflowing reception centers on five Aegean Sea islands, according to the latest data provided by the government. The country has been burdened with a major refugee and migrant problem since 2015.
Earlier this month, the government immediately quarantined two other refugee facilities near Athens after coronavirus cases were reported there.
Aid agencies have kept calling for more concerted actions at the European level to tackle the migration issue and human rights protection organizations have expressed worries about the over-crowdedness and lack of health sources in the camps on Aegean islands, which may result in "a massive humanitarian crisis."
Greek government spokesperson Stelios Petsas noted during an interview with a local television on Wednesday that the next days are crucial when referring to the recent coronavirus outbreak at the refugee facility. "We are neither optimistic nor pessimistic; we are closely monitoring the situation," Petsas said.
Meanwhile, in an article published by Spiegel and Deutsche Welle, Greece ranks 15th among the European countries where citizens are safer against the coronavirus. The article said that Greece lags behind in terms of two criterion, the availability of hospital beds and the mass of diagnostic tests, although the country has increased its ICU beds from 560 to 900 in a short time.
The Greek health ministry announced on Wednesday that 56,944 tests have been carried out in the country since the outbreak, but some voices from doctors said that more tests are needed to boost confidence of the public.
Some Greek officials also said that the country wants to get rid of being labelled as the "black sheep" of Europe from the debt crisis, by showing a successful containment of the coronavirus.
"What is consoling, however, is that we are no longer a special case. We are not a black sheep," said Mitsotakis in a recent interview with Greek newspaper Kathimerini, adding that Greeks have shown discipline and resilience in this battle.
The Federal Ministry of Works and Housing on Friday assured road users in Edo that the rehabilitation of federal roads in the state would be completed before the yuletide.
Mr Oke Owhe, Federal Controller of works in Edo, gave the assurance when he inspected rehabilitation work on the Benin-Agbor, Agbor-Ewu, Uromi-Agbor and Benin-Iruekpen-Auchi-Okene roads.
Owhe, who expressed satisfaction with the pace of work on the roads, said most of the repairs were 80 per cent completed.
He said that the government’s effort was to ensure safer and seamless journeys by road users, especially during Christmas.
The controller said the repair was as directed by the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola.
Few weeks ago, the minister directed that all failed portions of federal roads across the country be rehabilitated before the yuletide to ease vehicular movement during the season.
“In line with that directive, the contractors handling the dualisation of the roads commenced repairs of the bad portions.
“You have seen for yourself. A lot of work has been done but a lot more still needs to be done.
“The dualisation work from Auchi to Okpella is almost completed and so we do not have failed portions on that part of the road.
“It is only from Okene to Okpella that has not been completed and it is 37 kilometers long; but with time it will be fully dualised.
“We have actually progressed. As the construction progresses, the length of road that will require maintenance will reduce,” he said.
The Project Manager in charge of Section 1, Benin-Agbor road, Mr Naor Narkisi, promised that the road would be ready for use before Dec. 22, when the roads would be busy.
Some motorists who spoke with newsmen during the inspection commended the federal government for the repair.
They, however, appealed that government should expedite action and ensure proper supervision of the dualisation of the Benin-Auchi-Okene road for the good of Nigerians.
Edited & Vetted By: Ejike Obeta/Donald Ugwu
A financial expert, Dr Samuel Nzekwe, has lauded the National Assembly for the timely passage of the 2020 Appropriation Bill.
Nzekwe, also a former President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), made the commendation in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Ota, Ogun, on Friday.
NAN reports that the 2020 Appropriation Bill of N10.3 trillion, presented by President Muhammadu Buhari on Oct. 8, was increased to N10.6 trillion by the National Assembly while passing it.
Details of the 2020 Appropriation Bill include: Recurrent Expenditures-N4.84 trillion, Capital Expenditures-N2.46 trillion, and Debt Servicing-N2.72 trillion.
NAN also reports that this is the first time since 1999 that the nation’s annual budget would be passed within 60 days.
Nzekwe said that the early passage of 2020 Appropriation Bill was a welcome development, saying that it would return the nation to January to December circle of annual budget.
“The Federal Government’s effort of bringing the nation’s annual budget to normal cycle of January to December is commendable, if it is effectively implemented,’’ Nzekwe said.
The former ANAN president advised the Federal Government to intensity efforts in ensuring that the January to December cycle was sustained and maintained in order to achieve objectives of the budget.
Nzekwe said the National Assembly should not have increased the benchmark of oil from 55 dollars to 57 dollars because the price was being determined by external forces or international market.
He stressed the need for the Federal Government to redouble efforts in reducing the funds being used to service debts so that more funds could be made available to build capital projects.
“How do we fund the building of critical infrastructure like electricity, road networks and water, if the nation continues to spend over 25 per cent of its annual budgets on debts servicing,’’ he said.
Nzekwe said that this development would make it difficult for manufacturers to compete favourably in term of qualities and prices with goods coming into the country.
The former ANAN president stressed the need to focus on building critical infrastructure by reducing borrowing that were mainly used for recurrent expenditures in order to bring down high rate of debts servicing.
He called on the Federal Government to put in place effective policing of the nation’s borders so that the projection of 10.8 per cent for inflation rate in 2020 budget could be achievable.
Nzekwe noted that the increase in inflation rate, which translated to rising in prices of goods and services, could be traced to the closure of the nation’s borders.
Edited & Vetted By: Cecilia Odey/Olagoke Olatoye
Osita Okeke, Chairman, Nigeria Football Supporters Club, South Africa chapter, has appealed to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to give it early notice of matches in the South African region.
Okeke told the Nigeria News Agency on Friday on telephone from Johannesburg, South Africa, that members of the club did not attend some matches played in the region in recent times.
“For instance, members of the supporters club did not get early information about the Enyimba FC of Aba CAF Confederation match in South Africa.
“It is the same with the Super Eagles Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying match against Lesotho in Maseru.
“We appeal to the NFF to inform us of matches in the South African region through our national body in good time.
“We will mobilise members to the match venue and give full support to any national team or Nigerian club.
“We are always available to cheer any Nigerian team that plays in the Southern African region,’’ he told NAN.
Okeke also urged the Ministry of Youths and Sports Development to also carry them along when there was tournament or championships involving Nigeria in other games.
“Apart from football, the supporters club will mobilise and cheer our sportsmen and women participating in other events.
“We have the capacity to go to any venue and support our sportsmen and women in spite of being football supporters club,’’ he said.
The chairman commended the Super Eagles for a good beginning in the quest to qualify for the 2021 AFCON tournament, which will be hosted by Cameroon.
Nigeria leads Group L with six points from two matches in the 2021 AFCON qualifiers.
“We request that the present players and officials in the Super Eagles be kept together to accomplish the task ahead.
“We are very optimistic that if kept together, the new look Super Eagles will win AFCON 2021 tournament,’’ Okeke said.
(Edited & Vetted By: Peter Ejiofor)
An Ethiopian government report released on Tuesday warned that 8.5 million people would need food aid from Feb. 2020 to June 2020.
This is according to the first Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis report released by the Ethiopian government in Addis Ababa.
The report said that in spite of ongoing assistance, insufficient harvest in the coming month’s meant that at least 8.5 million people were expected to need food aid in the first half of 2020.
The report said that conflict and climate-induced displacement, high food prices and the long dry spell in the northeastern parts of Ethiopia would likely aggravate the needs of 8.5 million vulnerable people.
The report further warned of the need to take urgent action to save lives and reduce malnutrition, and to mitigate the effects of the anticipated food security crisis in the first half of 2020.
In March 2019, the Ethiopian government and its humanitarian partners including the UN had appealed for 1.3 billion dollars to address food and non-food emergency needs of some 8.3 million people.
Ethiopia was spared significant climate-related calamities in 2018, but spikes in conflict-induced displacements, which led to an increase of internally displaced population, contributed to high humanitarian response needs in 2019.
(Edited & Vetted By: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim)
An educationist, Mrs Elizabeth Aboluwarin, has urged teachers to adopt new skills and strategies on early childhood to improve foundation education in Nigeria.School of Early Childhood and Primary Education (SECPED) at Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, made the call during a news conference on Monday in Lagos.The Nigeria News Agency reports that the news briefing was organised to mark the first National Conference on Early Childhood and Primary Education in Nigeria.The theme of the conference was: “Exposing The Trends In Early Childhood and Primary Education to the Major Stakeholders n the Educational Sector in Nigeria”. Aboluwarin urged every early childhood teachers to adopt the use of technology and students-teachers interactive approach in foundation teaching. “In those days teachers only do the talking without interacting and involving the students fully, especially the early childhood students.“That method needs to stop because we are in the 21st century which means our pre service teachers in the teacher training institutes and the practising teachers in school system needs to adapt to the new trends.“It became imperative to practice what we preach, learn and unlearn at every opportunity available for teachers,” she said.Aboluwarin said that the imperative of these new skills compelled the school to come up with the conference in order to get good foundational pedagogical building for the teachers.“AOCOED is a unique school because we are the first college to establish School of Early Childhood and Primary Education where we train caregivers and teachers for pre schools and primary schools, respectively,” she said. Aboluwarin also urged Lagos State Government to build standard early childhood and primary education school in AOCOED. She said that there was also need for government to keep training and retraining the staff regularly. Edited & Vetted By: Wale Ojetimi