News, July 9th

‘Return the Black Hills’ chant greets Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign-stop here at Mt. Rushmore National Memorial on July 3 provoked a rally of some 400 Native Americans and allies, who seized the opportunity to remind him he was trespassing on sacred Black Hills Indian treaty land stolen in violation of the Constitution.

“What do we want? Land back. When do we want it? Now!” was the prevailing chant of the multitude.

It succeeded in drawing worldwide attention to the Constitutional cause by blocking an access route to the memorial, delaying some of the more than 7,000 Trump campaign supporters who had paid to attend the private event at the public venue.

“Mount Rushmore is on stolen Lakota land and its very existence is a symbol of white supremacy,” said Nick Tilsen, president and CEO of the Rapid City-based national non-profit NDN Collective, which initiated the action.

“In opposing the ongoing desecration of our sacred land and asking for return of Lakota lands where Mount Rushmore is situated, we’re not saying anything that our parents, grandparents and great grandparents haven’t already said,” Tilsen noted.

With a classic show of civil disobedience, demonstrators disabled tires on several late-model white vans parked across all four lanes of the blacktop highway connecting the town of Keystone to the national park visitors center, then stood by, singing, shouting and waving banners, as well as an Oglala Sioux tribal nation flag, for four hours until law enforcement mobilized to suppress the action.

Helicopters repeated flyovers as Pennington County Sheriff’s deputies, South Dakota Highway Patrol, Homeland Security, National Guard, U.S. Secret Service, USDA Forest Service, park rangers, police in riot gear, and other armed personnel joined forces to tow the vans, clear the roadblock, and arrest dissidents.

Covering the activity for independent Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Radio KILI, Arlo Iron Cloud reported shots fired toward the feet of rally participants. Law enforcement insisted he leave his hillside observation post and move to the highway area surrounded by weaponized professionals, even when he objected that he was working media.

Tensions rose as patrol members donned gas masks. No tear gas discharges were verified but some of the unarmed demonstrators were sprayed with mace, according to legal observers. “Every conflict was police-initiated,” said legal observer Bruce Ellison, an attorney on NDN Collective’s legal team.

The team’s conversations with sheriff and other local officers in advance of the direct action aimed to assure law enforcement that no use of force would be necessary as plans were for peaceful assembly; if outside armed reinforcements had not arrived, the road would have been cleared in half the time, Ellison observed.

“Some of the over-reaction we were seeing was just a tip-off for the Keystone XL Pipeline,” he said, referring to fears that the state will repress civil rights of native oil pipeline fighters, such as Tilsen, if building continues.

Eventually, from somewhere near one of several formations of camouflage-suited and shield-carrying troopers, a loudspeaker announcement warned four times, “This is an unlawful assembly. Disperse immediately.” Verbal retorts ensued: “You are unlawful. Why don’t you disperse?”

After many demonstrators avoided arrest by clearing out, ranks of uniformed agents advanced on the remaining targets and zip-tied their hands behind their backs, taking them into custody — all to taunts of “You stole this land” but no resistance.

A transport van escorted at least a dozen detainees from there to the Pennington County office complex for booking and jail. They were released on July 4, except for Tilsen, who was held until his bond hearing July 6.

Tilsen was released on $2,000 cash bond to face criminal charges of second-degree robbery, which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence, and simple assault of a law enforcement officer, which carries a maximum two-year sentence.

He also faces a misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and impeding traffic, which have one-year maximum jail penalty, as well as petty misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct, with a maximum 30-day sentence.

Tilsen is an outspoken opponent of oil pipeline construction through unceded 1851 and 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty territory, which includes the Black Hills.

The U.S. Supreme Court In 1980 awarded $105 million to the tribes of the Great Sioux Nation for the theft of the Black Hills and other lands guaranteed under the 1868 treaty, which had promised the Oceti Sakowin, or Seven Council Fires, “the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Great Sioux Reservation.”

“A riper and rank case of dishonest dealing may never be found in our history,” Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun said in his opinion of the U.S. failure to enforce the treaty language as required by the U.S. Constitution.

Three decades later, the interest on the money in the U.S. Treasury has brought the offer to upwards of $1.4 billion. However, insisting that “the Black Hills are not for sale,” the Sioux Nation tribes refuse to accept a payout and have lobbied for a settlement to return them the portion of the Black Hills that is under federal management.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem invited Trump to hold the campaign event here on the eve of the national Independence Day annual celebration. Ellsworth Airforce Base provided a Blue Angels fighter jet air show at the occasion. Fireworks over the mountain carving of four presidents capped the incumbent candidate’s discourse.

Trump launched the speech, thanking Noem and saying, “There could be no better place to celebrate America’s independence than beneath this magnificent, incredible, majestic mountain and monument to the greatest Americans who have ever lived.”

He neglected to mention the descendants of the original inhabitants here and only once mentioned the coronavirus pandemic, which logged a record number of cases nationwide that day.

“Let us also send our deepest thanks to our wonderful veterans, law enforcement, first responders and the doctors, nurses and scientists working tirelessly to kill the virus,” he said. In response to this Native Sun News Today Editor Tim Giago, a veteran of the Korean War, said, “I am totally appalled at the now proven fact that he knew the Russians had paid Taliban fighters bounties to kill American soldiers. Where in the hell is the national outrage?”

Noem declared in advance that no protocols would be in force on this occasion to protect spread of the pandemic, despite Trump’s recent exposure to a staffer tested positive for the uncontrolled lethal virus at an Oklahoma campaign-stop during the outbreak’s June surge there.

With cases at their U.S. peak, the deliberate absence of requirements for masking, distancing, and other public safety measures at a national gathering drew harsh criticism from South Dakota tribal government leaders.

“It’s incredible that this Administration is playing with our lives for a photo-op,” said Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chair Harold Frazier, “especially after members of the President’s own advance team and Secret Service tested positive following his irresponsible Tulsa rally.”

Frazier joined Oglala Sioux Tribal Chair Julian Bear Runner and Rosebud Sioux Tribe Chair Rodney Bordeaux in denouncing the Trump Administration’s “retaliatory measures” against the tribes for posting coronavirus health checkpoints along reservation roads.

Frazier has sued Trump for threats to tribal sovereignty in the recent U.S. Interior Department’s response to Noem’s plea for help to close down the roadside stations.

“Now he’s hosting an over-the-top fireworks display in our sacred Black Hills, while he doles out retribution against our tribal governments,” Frazier said. “And for what? For doing what he failed to do—protecting people from a deadly virus.”

Interior and its BIA administrators said they would pull pandemic relief funding and a law enforcement contract support if Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe doesn’t do Noem’s bidding.

Address ‘unprecedented’ impact of coronavirus on Latin America and the Caribbean, urges Guterres

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the world, Latin America and the Caribbean have become a “hotspot of the pandemic”, the UN chief said on Thursday, releasing a new policy initiative on how best to recover in a region already embroiled in poverty, hunger, unemployment and inequality.

The UN brief reveals that several countries in the region, are now among those with the highest per capita infection rates worldwide and shines a light on how the crisis is impacting vulnerable groups, including indigenous communities and women.

“The most vulnerable populations and individuals are once again being hit the hardest,” Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message on the pandemic’s effect throughout a zone grappling with fragmented health services – even before the coronavirus.

The UN chief emphasized the impact of the coronavirus on women across the region, who make up the majority of the workforce and now bear the brunt of additional caregiving. He highlighted the plight of older persons and individuals with disabilities, who are at greater risk; and indigenous peoples, those of African descent, migrants, and refugees, who suffering disproportionately.

It is projected that there will be a 9.1 per cent contraction in gross domestic product (GDP), which will be the largest in a century.

While stressing the need to “do everything possible to limit the spread of the virus and tackle the health effects of the pandemic”, Mr. Guterres noted that “we must also address the unprecedented social and economic impacts.”

The policy brief underlines an array of urgent and longer-term steps for better recovery, including the prioritization of distance learning and continued child-centered services to mitigate education interruptions.

Governments within the region are also being asked to do more to reduce poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition, such as by providing basic emergency income and anti-hunger grants.

Mr. Guterres also flagged the urgent need for greater international support.

“I have called for a rescue and recovery package equivalent to more than 10 per cent of the global economy”, reminded the UN chief, underscoring the need of the international community to provide liquidity, financial assistance and debt relief for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Latin American and Caribbean countries – and in particular, small island developing States – should not be excluded from global assistance”, he asserted. “The international multilateral response needs to be extended to middle-income countries”.

Broader structural challenges must be addressed to build back better and transform the region’s development model.

Against the backdrop of pervasive inequality, accessible and comprehensive welfare systems must be developed, fair taxation systems created, decent jobs promoted, environmental sustainability strengthened, and social protection mechanisms reinforced, according to the UN chief.

Moreover, regional economic integration is required, with “women participating fully and safely in public and economic life”, he stressed.

“Building back better demands strengthening democratic governance, human rights protection and the rule of law, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, Mr. Guterres spelled out.

The Secretary-General maintained that the root causes of inequality, political instability and displacement must be addressed, while underscoring that at a time when too many citizens feel excluded, “greater accountability and transparency are crucial”.

Unemployment will surge from 8.1 per cent in 2019 to 13.5 per cent this year – yielding over 44 million people out of work, an increase of more than 18 million from last year.

Poverty is expected to jump by 7.0 per cent to 37.2 per cent in 2020 – leaving 230 million poverty-stricken people.

Extreme poverty is forecast to rise by 4.5 per cent to 15.5 per cent –representing 28 million people more people in dire straits (96 million in total).

He expressed his full solidarity with the people of Latin America and the Caribbean as they face these challenges, saying that “solidarity and compassion should be their guide”.

“Together, we can overcome this crisis and build inclusive and sustainable societies for all”, concluded the UN chief.

Chicago school votes to kick out police officers

On July 7, in a Zoom meeting packed with more than four times the typical attendance, the Local School Council of Northside College Prep High School took an unprecedented step and voted to remove the School Resource Officers that had been stationed inside their Chicago Public Schools high school. The vote followed a protest two days earlier organized by CPS Alumni for Abolition, where 80 students and teachers gathered at Northside College Prep to speak about their experiences with SROs and the necessity of removing them.

The vote is the most recent development in the struggle led by young and oppressed people to remove police officers from CPS. In the weeks leading up to a Chicago Board of Education vote on whether or not to end the $33 million contract between CPS and the Chicago Police Department, students and community members organized large demonstrations, campaigns and phone banks to demonstrate their dedication to getting cops out of their schools. In a close three-to-four vote, the Board of Education, which is appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, chose to keep the contract with CPD, making it up to each individual school’s LSC to vote on the presence of SROs in their schools.

SROs are CPD officers who are present at schools in full uniform, with bullet proof vests and lethal sidearms. For oppressed students, including students of color and female students, the presence of these police officers carries an implicit threat of violence. For many students, this threat is realized, and the presence of SROs is seen as a direct link in the school-to-prison pipeline. CPS Alumni for Abolition has collected testimonials from current and past CPS students detailing cases of sexual assault, racial profiling, and abuse of power by SROs. The document of testimonials is currently 34 pages long. A student of Northside College Prep, Kiara Fufunan told Liberation News:

“Police in schools for some are a reminder of a larger force off-campus that threatens and intimidates certain races and ethnicities. Prioritizing their presence over resources for physical health, such as nurses, or mental health, such as therapists, is disrespectful to the students who experience trauma directly caused by police.”

Tim Jung, a teacher at Northside, told Liberation News that in “the presence of armed police in an educational setting, students do suffer: those facing multiple oppressions may relive trauma, may have heightened anxiety, or may even fall victim to an act of state violence.”

“An ideal school helps students foster the ability to see multiple perspectives — but these multiple perspectives are not ones that are dehumanizing or silencing of others. … The goal of education, in the real world, is to see multiple perspectives and to understand the suffering of others. Doing so might allow us to imagine different social relationships, which could transform society for the better.”

The movement to remove police from public schools is part of the rebellion sweeping the country to demand racial justice. Fufanan pointed out that “this recent vote [to kick SROs out of Northside] could not have happened without the ongoing movement for Black lives. We’ve been forced to confront the systems that maintain order within the United States, and with that, we have to acknowledge who the systems protect and who they neglect.”

Kysani London, a member of CPS Alumni for Abolition, who organized the protest at Northside College Prep to put pressure on their LSC to remove the SROs, emphasized that even though this was a small-scale battle, the struggle is still revolutionary:

“Right now, the small-scale police-free-school work that we’re engaging in can — in some ways — be seen as one of the first dominoes to fall in a series in the move for police abolition. … We, along with numerous other national organizations, are helping to push the door ajar for radical change surrounding the concept of policing.”

Missing Seoul mayor’s body found after massive search

Local police said the body of the missing mayor of South Korea’s capital, Seoul, has been found.

Mayor Park Won-soon’s body was discovered in hills in northern Seoul early Friday, more than seven hours after local authorities launched a massive search for him.

His daughter called police on Thursday afternoon and said her father had given her “a will-like” verbal message before leaving their home hours earlier. She said she decided to contact authorities because she couldn’t reach her father on the phone.

Police officer Lee Byeong-seok told reporters that Park was last identified by a security camera at 10:53 a.m. at the entrance to the wooded hills stretching across northern Seoul, more than six hours before his daughter called police to report him missing. His cellphone signal was last detected in the area before the phone was eventually turned off.

About 600 police and fire officers using drones searched for hours Thursday evening. Fire officer Jeong Jin-hyang said rescuers used dogs to search dangerous areas on the hills, and helicopters were to be deployed Friday morning in the event that Park still had not been found overnight.

Kim Ji-hyeong, a Seoul Metropolitan Government official, said Park did not come to work on Thursday for unspecified reasons and had canceled his schedule, including a meeting with a presidential official at his Seoul City Hall office.

Circumstances surrounding his disappearance and death remain unclear.

The Seoul-based SBS television network reported that one of Park’s secretaries had lodged a complaint with police on Wednesday night over alleged sexual harassment such as unwanted physical contact that began in 2017.

The SBS report, which didn’t cite any source, said the secretary told police investigators that an unspecified number of other female employees at Seoul City Hall had suffered similar sexual harassment by Park. MBC television carried a similar report.

Both the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency and Park’s office said they couldn’t confirm the reports.

Park, 64, a longtime civic activist and human rights lawyer, was elected Seoul mayor in 2011. He became the city’s first mayor to be voted into a third term in June last year. A member of President Moon Jae-in’s liberal Democratic Party, he has been considered a potential presidential candidate in the 2022 elections.

As a lawyer, he was credited for winning the country’s first sexual harassment conviction. He has also been an outspoken critic of Japan’s colonial-era policies toward Korea, including the mobilization of Korean and other women as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers.

Park also established himself as a fierce opponent of former conservative President Park Geun-hye and openly supported the millions of people who flooded the city’s streets in late 2016 and 2017, calling for her ouster over a corruption scandal.

Seoul, a city of 10 million people, has been a new center of the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea since the country eased its rigid social distancing rules in early May. The mayor led an aggressive anti-virus campaign, shutting down thousands of nightspots and banning rallies in major downtown streets.

Remarks by President Trump at Signing of an Executive Order on the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative

Well, thank you very much.  Please.  Great honor to be with you in the beautiful Rose Garden on a sweltering day.  (Laughter.)

But I do want to thank you all for being here as we proudly launch the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative.  Very exciting.  Very exciting.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

With this very exciting new effort, we will deliver a future of greater promise, opportunity, and freedom for our nation’s — really, it’s a treasure.  You are a treasure.  The Hispanic Americans and the Hispanic American community are a treasure.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

We’re thrilled to be joined today by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.  Thank you, Betsy.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.  Thank you, Wilbur.  (Applause.)  Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson.  Thank you, Ben.  (Applause.)  Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza.  Thank you, Jovita.  (Applause.)  Very popular, Jovita.  (Laughter.)  And Representative Mike Garcia.  (Applause.)  Good.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Congratulations, Mike.  That was a big win, huh?  Biggest in 22 years, they say.  Huh?  First time in 22 years.  That’s a good one.  Well, you got something special going, right?  Thank you, Mike.  Great job.

Yesterday, I was delighted to host my friend, President López Obrador of Mexico, here in the White House and affirm the close and continued friendship between the United States and Mexico.  It’s never been better.

The executive order I will sign in a few moments will expand our efforts across all the federal government to deliver educational and economic opportunity for Hispanic Americans.  (Applause.)  At the heart of our strategy to create a prosperous future for every Hispanic American, as well as all Americans, is a great family of education.  We are going to have a tremendous program, and we have.  And, you know, we’re a believer in choice.  Choice.  The other folks don’t believe in choice, and choice is a great civil rights issue and maybe the great one of our times.

I’m going to fight to ensure that every Hispanic American parent has the freedom and the right to send your child to the public, private, charter, faith-based, magnet, home, or independent school of your choice.  (Applause.)  And school choice is an incredible issue in many ways.  It’s a political issue, I agree.  Most people agree with us.  The smart ones definitely agree with us.  But it’s also a moral issue, and it really is a fundamental issue of civil rights.  No American student should ever be trapped in a failing government school, which has happened so often for so many years.  It’s one of the problems you see when you see these cities going up in flame.

One of the most successful educational models is the charter school, which has been under unceasing attack from the radical left.  Charter schools.  Charter schools have been incredible, but they’re under attack, and you know why they’re under attack.

More than 1 million Hispanic American children attend charter schools, and nearly one in three charter school students is Hispanic American.  I’m proud that under my administration, we’ve delivered $1.5 billion for public charter schools.  That’s a record.  (Applause.)  As long as I’m President, I will never let your charter schools be taken away from you, be taken down.  I will never let you down.  I will never let Hispanic American or any American down.  That, I can tell you.  (Applause.)

Under our leadership, the Hispanic American high school graduation rate has reached an all-time high in the history of our country, and the dropout rate has reached an all-time low in the history of our country.  (Applause.)

We’ve also delivered a $1 billion grant for minority-serving institutions, including Hispanic-serving institutions of higher learning.  Our new Hispanic Prosperity Initiative will also expand access to trade schools — something that’s been really badly missing.  Trade schools.  So important.  Work-based learning and vocational education, so important.  Vocational.

When I was young, growing up, I used to see: “vocational school.”  Edison Vocational School.  That meant people with a great talent, but a talent different than history and math and other things.  But they had the same talent or far greater than many of the A students that studied other things.  Vocational school.  Great people, great talent, and they do very well.  They do very well.

Through our Pledge to the American Worker, we have already made available 16 million apprenticeships and training opportunities for the jobs of tomorrow.

To bring jobs and prosperity to our most distressed communities, we created nearly 9,000 Opportunity Zones — that’s been a great success, a tremendous — Tim Scott of South Carolina has helped them so much — (applause) — which have already brought nearly $100 billion in investment to neighborhoods where millions of Hispanic Americans live.  And you see it.  So many of you already today, in speaking with you, you said what a difference that made.

Before the plague from China came in — you know what that is; that’s the China virus — before it came in and hit us, we achieved the lowest Hispanic American unemployment rate and the lowest poverty rate ever recorded — history of our country — ever recorded.  (Applause.)  And we’re getting back to it very quickly.

We achieved the highest-ever incomes for Hispanic Americans and many other American groups and communities.  We built the greatest economy in history, not only for our country, but for the world.  We were number one, by far.

China had the worst year in 67 years.  They weren’t happy with what was going.  They were going in the wrong direction, and then the plague came in.

But together, we will do it again and we will do it very quickly, and we’re already doing it.  We will achieve a swift, full, and complete recovery for Hispanic Americans and the Hispanic American community, and we’re doing it very, very rapidly.

Our strategy focuses on sheltering the most vulnerable, including older Americans and nursing home residents, while allowing those at lower risk, such as young and healthy — children, in many cases; the immune system is so powerful, so strong — but the young and the healthy to safely return to work and to school.  We have to open our schools.  Open our schools.  (Applause.)  Stop this nonsense.  We open our schools.

Germany, Norway, so many countries right now, they’re open.  The schools are open and they’re doing just fine, and they’re opening in the fall.  So, we have to get our schools open.  Denmark, Sweden.  We have to get our schools open and stop this political nonsense.  And it’s only political nonsense; it’s politics.  They don’t want to open because they think it will help them on November 3rd.  I think it’s going to hurt them on November 3rd.  Open your schools.

At the same time, we’re unleashing the scientific brilliance of our people.  We have multiple effective therapies in use already with more being developed.  And you have to see some of them.  The results are looking incredible.  And we are on track to produce a vaccine in record time and very, very soon.  It’s going to be announced, I believe, very, very soon.  So, we have therapies and we have vaccines.  Utilizing these advances and the skill of our doctors and nurses, we have dramatically reduced mortality rates.  We have among the lowest mortality rate anywhere in the world.

We’ve done a great job, whether it’s ventilators or anything you want to look at, testing.  We test so many people, then we have more cases.  Everybody says, “We have so many cases.”  That’s because we test so many people.  We’re up to approximately 40 million tests, going up to 45 very quickly.  So, we have tests; other countries don’t do tests like we do.  So, we show cases; other countries don’t show cases.

But what we do have is we have perhaps the lowest — but among the lowest, but perhaps the lowest mortality rate — death rate — anywhere in the world.  And that’s a tremendous sign as to what we’re doing and what our doctors have learned and the kind of things that we’re using.  It’s been an — it’s an incredible number, statistically an incredible number.

A policy of never-ending lockdowns month after month would ultimately do more harm than good to public health, and so bad for our children.  As a result, it really is more loss of life.  We can’t do that.  We have to get back now.  We did it right.  We saved millions of lives by what we did.  We shut it down.  We saved millions of lives.

I put a ban on China — heavily infected.  I put a ban on Europe very early.  Both of them, very early.  We saved millions of lives.  Now it’s time to get back to work.  A lot of people were against those bans, and now they admit — most of those same people admit that ban was the greatest thing.  It saved so many lives.

Crucially, we realize that the health of a nation’s economy is fundamental to the health of its people.  In the last two months, we have begun the fastest economic comeback in history, including an increase in Hispanic American employment of more than 2.1 million jobs.  It’s a record.  The Hispanic Prosperity Initiative will help build on this program.

I will be naming a leader of incredible vision, former Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico John Sanchez.  And I know he’s here.  John, I’d love to have you come up and say a few words, please.  (Applause.)

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR SANCHEZ:  Well, thank you, Mr. President.  What an honor it is to be here with you and everybody else here in our nation’s capital.

Let me say, from a young boy who grew up in absolute poverty, the youngest of eight kids with a single mother, I understand what it is for the challenges facing all families, but especially Hispanic families in this country.  But because of her leadership through personal responsibility — stay in school, get a good education — we have lived the American Dream.

As a young boy, I used to go and search for cardboard boxes out of the trash cans of grocery stores because we didn’t have the soles, Mr. President, on our shoes.  We would hope and pray that it wouldn’t rain so the cardboard wouldn’t melt on our way to school.  Here now, almost 50 years later, I stand next to the most powerful man in the world, in the most powerful city in the world, at the White House, with all of you fine folks.

Today, I have lived the American Dream.  I look at my brand-new black shoes.  That’s the American Dream.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Nice shoes.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR SANCHEZ:  Mr. President, your leadership, when it comes to job creation; education reform; choice, when it comes to education, will allow this country to fulfill its American Dream.  I’m honored to be here with you, Mr. President.  Your great leadership, making America great — we stand with you.  We’ll keep America great under your leadership.

God bless you.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, John.  Great job, John.  Thank you very much.  Great honor.

I’ll also be appointing the CEO and president of Goya Foods, Bob Unanue.  Please.  Please, Bob.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much, Bob.

MR. UNANUE:  Good afternoon, Mr. President.  Good afternoon, everyone.  It’s such an honor and such a blessing to be here in the greatest country in the world, the most prosperous country in the world, and we continue to grow.  And that’s what we’re here to do today.

Our company was founded in 1936 by my grandfather, who left Spain at only 18 years old.  Did not know where he was heading, but he was heading and looking for opportunity and prosperity, and he found it in this great country.

Today, our company is a multi-billion-dollar company with thousands of employees and with facilities all around the globe.  We have a tremendous group of what we call “la gran familia Goya,” the Goya family — the great Goya family.

And these are people — I told the President earlier we haven’t gone back to work; we never stopped working.  Because when I asked our group, our family, “This is going to be a tough thing,” they said, “Look, Bob, if we don’t do it, nobody will.”  And they stood up and they worked, and we continue to workday and night to provide much-needed food and nutrition to this country.

Today, it gives me great honor — and, by the way, we’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump who is a builder.  And that’s what my grandfather did: He came to this country to build, to grow, to prosper.  And so, we have an incredible builder, and we pray — we pray for our leadership, our President, and we pray for our country that we will continue to prosper and to grow.

Today, I have an announcement to make that the gran familia Goya wanted to share with all of you.  There’s a great need today in food banks around the country.  Food is being depleted.  Hopefully, as the summer ends, we have new crops coming forward, but right now there’s — there is a shortage.

So, our employees and some partners we have in the industry wanted to donate 1 million cans of Goya chickpeas and a million pounds of food.  And these are all products made in the United States: steel from United States Steel; Silgan containers; Producers Rice Mill, in Arkansas, donating food.  Our farmers — and again, all of our products, a lot of our products are grown here in the United States, made in America.

And we’re — we’re very proud to give back to this nation, to the food banks which are going to be needing some of that important food — something that we do all year.  But in particular, at this special time, we wanted to make that gift.

So, God bless you all.  We hope that we continue to prosper and grow in this great country and give thanks to God.  Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Bob.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Great.  Thank you, Bob.  It’s very nice.

We’re also grateful to be joined by future commission members, standing behind me: Mario Rodriguez, Steve Cortes, Lourdes Aguirre, Jose Fuentes, Cassandra Garcia Meade, Chris Garcia, Jesus Marquez, David Olivencia, Alfredo Ortiz.  Thank you all very much for being here.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Great.  Great group of people.  We just had a fantastic meeting.

Hispanic Americans are cherished members of our national family.  They have been an integral part of building this country throughout all of American history.

Over generations, Hispanic Americans have started countless small businesses, inspired our communities, and served our country in every way imaginable — as police officers, service members, Border Patrol agents, pastors, teachers, and business leaders.  They’re incredible.

Now Hispanic Americans are watching as the cities they help build, the communities they help police, the businesses they created, and the dreams they pursued are being threatened by an extreme movement that wants to tear everything down.

At the center of this movement is an aggressive effort to defund the police if you can even believe that.  Defund the police — think about that.  It’s a sad, sad thing.  These people are crazy.  They are crazy.  Which would inflict great harm on our hardworking Latino communities — great, great harm.

Many immigrants came to the United States in order to leave countries where the rule of law had been eroded.  And they don’t want those same conditions to be replicated here.  They don’t want them back.  They know what it is firsthand.  They know what happens when the police cannot protect the innocent, when the rule of law is destroyed, when justice becomes an instrument of vengeance.  Hispanic Americans, they know.  They’re hardworking patriots who support our police, protect our communities, and believe strongly in the rule of law.

I will stand arm-in-arm with the Hispanic community to ensure that every child in America can grow up in safety, security, dignity, and in peace.

We believe that the timeless principles of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are all shared, and they have to be shared in a big, beautiful heritage of all Americans.  Whether you are a first-generation American or a fifth-generation American, this is your home.  American history is your history.  It’s about you.  It’s about your family.  It’s about our country.  And the American Dream belongs equally to you.

American heroes inspire us all, and their legacy falls to all of us to cherish and to protect and to revere.  Every American, no matter your background, is entitled to a government that puts your needs and your families first.

Americans of all walks of life are united by the same noble ideas and the same fundamental designs for good schools, strong families, safe communities, and abundant opportunity.  And I will not rest until we have delivered this future for every community — not only the Hispanic community, which is doing so well, but every community in our land.

Together, we will write the next great chapter of the American adventure, and we will defend the greatness of America for your children, for your children’s children, and for generations to come.

Before signing this executive order, which is such an important executive order, I’d like to invite Secretary DeVos to come up and say a few words, followed by Administrator Carranza.  Please come up, Betsy.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

SECRETARY DEVOS:  Well, thank you so much, Mr. President, for your leadership on this initiative.  As you have noted, education opens the door to prosperity and opportunity.  And Hispanic students, like all students, need to have the freedom and choice to find their education fit.

Mr. President, you have led in advancing opportunity for Hispanic students by supporting Hispanic-serving higher-ed institutions by expanding the opportunities for charter schools, by expanding the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program right here in the district.  And there’s still more to do because all Hispanic students across our country need to have the opportunity to choose their right education fit.  They need to have school choice.  We know this is broadly supported by Hispanic families.  Eighty percent of them support this notion of ensuring their children and their grandchildren have that opportunity.

So, thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership in ensuring that all Hispanic students have that chance at the American Dream.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

SECRETARY DEVOS:  Thanks, Mr. President. (Applause.)

ADMINISTRATOR CARRANZA:  I can’t believe I blinked at you, President.  (Laughter.)

Thank you, Mr. President.  It’s a tremendous honor to be part of an administration so dedicated to helping Latino entrepreneurs during this extraordinary time in our country.

As a daughter of first-generation Mexican Americans, I know firsthand how important opportunity is toward promoting upward mobility and enabling the American Dream.  Creating opportunities is the central goal behind the President’s new executive order establishing the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, designed to help Hispanic Americans reach their dreams through innovative education and career pathways.

Under your leadership, Mr. President, Latinos have been the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the country, and we want to see that continue.

(Speaks Spanish.)  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey, Mike, maybe you’d come up just and say a real quick word because it’s about, you know, like, setting records out here.  But come on up.  This man is such a big star now in California.  You win in California, you got to be good.  The Republican — we’re going to have a lot of Republicans winning in California, Mike, I think.  Please.

REPRESENTATIVE GARCIA:  I hope so.  I think it’s the beginning of something great in California, personally, Mr. President.

Thank you for the honor of being here today.  It’s a — it’s a huge honor to be here with my Hispanic brothers and sisters, leaders in your communities, leaders in your respective businesses.  I am the American Dream.  I am a first-generation American.  My dad immigrated here from Mexico when he was nine years old.  I had the opportunity to serve my country in the U.S. Navy, flying the most powerful strike fighter jets in the world, the F-18, off of aircraft carriers, and combat operations.  And now I’m sitting here as a member of Congress on the — on the lawn of the White House.  So — (applause).

I’d like to just echo the President’s comments that now is the time where we need to unite as Americans and really realize what this fight is all about.  It’s about freedom.  It’s about liberties.  It’s about fighting like it’s 1776, all over again.  That’s how real this fight is.

So, I’m proud to be here.  I’m proud to be serving my country again at this most critical time in our nation’s history.  And, Mr. President, thank you for your leadership.  Brothers and sisters, thank you for being here today.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.

REPRESENTATIVE GARCIA:  It’s a huge honor.  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Mike.  (Applause.)

Ben Carson, please come up just for a minute.  Say a few words, Ben.  You’ve done such a great job.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Ben.

SECRETARY CARSON:  Well, thank you, Mr. President.  And thank you all for being here today.  You know, it’s so important the emphasis that you have placed on opportunity.

And you asked the White House Council on Opportunity and Revitalization to look at those communities that were particularly affected in the COVID-19.  And we looked at that, and not just the fact that there was more hypertension and diabetes, obesity, asthma, but to look another layer underneath that and to deal with that.  And that’s what we are doing under your leadership.

And, you know, every single person in our society is worth saving.  We only have 330 million people — it sounds like a lot, but it’s a quarter of what China has, a quarter of what India has.  And we’re going to have to compete with them in the future, so we need to develop all of our people.  And your emphasis on education and educational choice will be the thing that really distinguishes and liberates our people.  So, thank you, Mr. President.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Ben.

So now I’m going to go and sign a very important document — one that we’ve been working on for a long time.  And I just want to congratulate the Hispanic American community.  Incredible people.  Thank you very much.  And God bless you all.  God bless America.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

(The executive order is signed.)

Researchers in Cambodia Receive Award for Innovative Approach to Help Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence

A research team from the KHANA Center for Population Health Research has won funding to implement a WhatsApp chatline offering 24-hour gender-based violence response and support for female entertainment workers in Cambodia, the World Bank Group and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) announced today.

The 2020 Development Marketplace: Innovations to Address Gender-Based Violence award will enable the researchers at KHANA to test the feasibility and effectiveness of the ‘SMARTgirl Chatline’, which provides 24-hour support via WhatsApp to female entertainment workers in Cambodia who are at risk or survivors of gender-based violence.

“Gender equality is a high priority for the World Bank in Cambodia, and it is a strong theme in our Country Partnership Framework. The project by KHANA is an important effort to find ways to keep female workers safe, especially those at the highest risk,” said Inguna Dobraja, World Bank Country Manager for Cambodia.

The Development Marketplace, jointly funded by the World Bank and SVRI, is an annual, global competition for researchers to find innovative solutions that can help individuals, communities, and nations prevent and respond to gender-based violence.

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, evidence has emerged that violence against women and girls, and in particular domestic violence, has intensified around the world due to confinement and lack of access to services. The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced partner or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetimes. Researchers have found that gender norms are often at the root of gender-based violence and that shifting community attitudes are critical to helping prevent violence against women and girls.

“The impacts of gender-based violence go far beyond the immediate significant harm to victims and manifest in health impacts, absenteeism and loss of productivity in the workplace, loss of income for families, and effects on the next generation.  The costs to society are steep and persistent,” said Caren Grown, Global Director, Gender, World Bank Group. “Through the Development Marketplace awards, researchers around the world are helping accelerate efforts to prevent and address gender-based violence.”

“Research and uptake of research findings is essential for understanding the drivers of violence and the contexts within which they flourish to help identify ways in which we can bring about sustained social change to end violence against women and children.” said Elizabeth Dartnall, Executive Director, Sexual Violence Research Initiative.

In the last four years, $5 million has been awarded by the World Bank Group and SVRI to 50 research projects in more than 32 low- and middle-income economies. The Development Marketplace award is given in memory of all victims of gender-based violence, including Hannah Graham, daughter of a longtime World Bank Group employee.

This year, Development Marketplace awards will support researchers in Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, India, Jordan, Serbia, South Africa, Vietnam, and a team conducting global research.

Singapore goes to the polls amidst Covid-19

Singaporeans will vote in a general election today with a raft of safety measures in place as the city-state emerges from a major coronavirus outbreak that swept through migrant worker dormitories.

Voters will wear masks and gloves, and go through temperature checks before casting their ballots, following a short nine-day campaign that took place mostly online as rallies were banned to reduce infection risks.

The People’s Action Party (PAP), which has governed Singapore for six decades, is assured of victory but faces an opposition with some popular candidates backed by the estranged brother of the country’s premier.

The affluent financial hub saw large virus outbreaks in dorms housing low-paid foreign workers, but with new infections slowing and authorities easing a partial lockdown, the government decided to call the poll.

The opposition has accused the PAP of being “irresponsible”, although officials insist, they have done enough to ensure the 2.65 million eligible voters can cast their ballots safely.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called Covid-19 “the crisis of a generation” and sought to project his party as a force for stability that can guide the country through tough times.

“Do not undermine a system that has served you well,” he said on the campaign trail.

Trading hub Singapore has been hit hard by the pandemic, and the government has rolled out nearly Sg$100 billion (US$72 billion) in stimulus packages.

Analysts say holding a poll now is a gamble and, with opinion polls banned during election campaigns in the tightly regulated country, it is not clear if the health crisis will boost or dent the government’s support.

While the government’s rivals are weak – they won only six parliamentary seats at the last election – a move by Premier Lee’s brother, Lee Hsien Yang, to join the opposition may help them.

The sibling is locked in a long-running feud with the prime minister over the legacy of their father, Singapore’s late founding leader Lee Kuan Yew, and has become a member of the Progress Singapore Party although he is not running for office himself.

“Voting for the opposition is the safest choice for Singapore,” Lee Hsien Yang said in a Facebook post this week. “It is not ‘rocking the boat’ but saving our boat from sinking.”

His party is one of a small host of opposition groups taking on the PAP in the country of 5.7 million, with 93 parliamentary seats being contested.

The PAP, which oversaw Singapore’s transformation into one of the world’s wealthiest societies, enjoys solid support but has been accused of arrogance, gerrymandering, and targeting its rivals.

During the campaign, several media outlets were hit with a controversial law against misinformation after carrying comments made by an opposition figure on the virus outbreak.

They were ordered to place warnings next to the comments, saying they contained false information.

The government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been a key topic among voters.

After initially keeping the virus in check, Singapore saw major outbreaks in the foreign worker dorms. It has reported over 45,000 infections, including 26 deaths, and is slowly emerging from a two-month lockdown.

While on-the-ground campaigning was limited to candidates meeting voters in small groups, the online campaign has been lively, with thousands watching livestreamed speeches.

“Voters have been very plugged in,” Mustafa Izzuddin, senior international affairs analyst at management consultancy Solaris Strategies Singapore, told AFP.

“It has been an election which has captured the political imagination of many.”

The poll is also a step in a carefully orchestrated transition of power to a new generation of leaders, with the 68-year-old prime minister expected to hand over his post to a hand-picked successor at some point afterwards.

Terrorism against Cuba is state policy

The United States government has been the main organizer and sponsor of terrorism in the world since the country’s emergence as a power with aspirations of universal hegemony.

Over the course of contemporary history, this nation has created, structured and provided support to all kinds of self-proclaimed paramilitary and terrorist groups around the world, while providing assistance to dictatorial governments that used terror as a tool of repression against their people.

The terrorist war unleashed against Cuba was conceived as state policy. The countless military, economic, biological, diplomatic, psychological, propagandistic and espionage attacks, the sabotage and attempts to physically eliminate leaders of the revolutionary process, are part of an official strategy developed and implemented by the White House to defeat the Revolution and end the construction of socialism on the island.

The overwhelming evidence that has been reviewed so many times: the hijacking of airplanes, which before 1959 had no precedent in the world, was a method devised and used precisely by the CIA in its program of terrorist actions that began with the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. The toll of 3,478 dead and 2,099 disabled Cubans, victims of this violent plan, are more than enough to make clear the serious consequences of these crimes.

Two months after the terrorist Alazo Baró shot “to kill” at the Cuban embassy in Washington, the complicit silence of the U.S. government indicates that the story is to be continued.

The motivations that inspired the mercenary and his puppeteers in Miami are products of the policy of tolerance, complicity and encouragement of hatred that for years allowed the likes of Orlando Bosch, Posada Carriles and other criminals, tutored by the U.S. government, to act with complete freedom.

Both the impunity with which these extremists act, and the absence of a reaction on the part of the Trump administration to the seriousness of an armed assault on a foreign diplomatic headquarters, silently answer the basic question: Who really sponsors terrorism?

Invariably, Cuba takes the high road, responding by offering lessons, amidst the COVID-19 crisis, and looking to the ethical protection of Martí’s ideas: “Those where hatred or intolerance are preached, fall down in time: but temples? Now more than ever, temples of love and humanity are needed, to unleash all that is generous in man, and subdue all that is crude and vile in him.”

UK reopens gyms, pools, as Treasury chief wans of recession

The U.K.’s Treasury chief acknowledged Thursday that the country faced unprecedented economic times, entering one of the most severe recessions it has ever seen as it emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A day after revealing his spending plans to boost the economy in a mini-budget, Rishi Sunak sought to sell his ideas to the nation — particularly the expensive program to help furloughed employees return to work after the government program now paying them expires in the fall. More than 9 million workers gave been furloughed under the program, in which the government has paid 80% of their salaries.

Under Sunak’s plan, the government will pay companies a 1,000-pound ($1,260) bonus for each employee they take back. That could cost the Treasury as much as 9.4 billion pounds, and critics are wondering whether it makes sense.

Though he acknowledged he couldn’t save every job, Sunak told the BBC he was “throwing everything,’’ he could at stemming the losses.

“We are entering one of the most severe recessions this country has ever seen,’’ Sunak told the BBC. “That is of course going to have a significant impact on unemployment and on job losses. I am acting to try and mitigate as much of that as possible.’’

The gloomy prediction was underscored by respected think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which questioned whether the billions of extra spending announced would be cost effective. The institute’s director, Paul Johnson, warned that a “reckoning, in the form of higher taxes” would have to come eventually.

“Even in a crisis we shouldn’t ignore the basics,” he said. “A lot, probably a majority, of the job retention bonus money will go in respect of jobs that would have been, indeed already have been, returned from furlough anyway.”

The country’s revenue and customs chief executive, Jim Harra, also raised concerns in a letter to Sunak, asking for a ministerial direction or a formal order to go ahead with the plan.

“The advice that we have both received highlights uncertainty around the value for money of this proposal,” he wrote.

The furlough program was one of several measures introduced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government to limit unemployment from the pandemic.

Economic activity dried up when most businesses closed as part of a nationwide lockdown-imposed March 23. Those measures are gradually being eased, with the reopening of shops, pubs, and restaurants.

The government hopes employers will help get the country back on track during a severe downturn – in March and April alone, the U.K. economy shrank 25%. Many economists think unemployment could more than double to over 3 million this year, levels last seen in the 1980s.

The cuts just kept coming Thursday. Department store chain John Lewis said it will permanently close eight of its stores, putting 1,300 workers at risk. Burger King UK warned of 1,600 jobs losses while Boots, the pharmacy chain, announced 4,000 cuts or 7% of its workforce, even though many of its shops stayed open during the lockdown.

The government announced the latest easing of lockdown Thursday, saying the public will soon be able to return to gyms, swimming pools and beauty parlors.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says that outdoor pools in England can begin re-opening beginning Saturday, with indoor pools, gyms, and other sports facilities to follow on July 25.

The guidance will also enable competitive grassroots team sports to resume, beginning with cricket this weekend.

Dowden also gleefully told a virtual news conference at Downing Street that outdoor arts performances — including theaters, opera, dance, and music — will also be able to perform outside, though audiences will be subjected to social distancing rules.

Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are reopening at slightly different paces.

UN chief highlights need for decent jobs to fuel COVID-19 recovery

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday (July 8) highlighted the need for decent jobs to fuel the COVID-19 recovery.

In a video message, the UN chief told heads of state and government and others attending a virtual meeting that they are essential to global efforts to “build back better” after the pandemic.

“Together, we can emerge from this crisis stronger, with decent jobs and a brighter, more equal and greener future for all,” he said.

More than 50 heads of state and government, alongside global employers’, and trade union leaders, have been taking part in an online discussion on Wednesday looking at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world of work.

The summit is part of a five-day virtual event organized this month by the International Labor Organization (ILO), to examine issues that include countering the economic and social impact of the crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the extreme vulnerability of millions of workers and businesses worldwide. It has led to a 14 percent drop globally in working hours during the second quarter of this year: equivalent to the loss of 400 million full time jobs, according to data from the ILO.

Furthermore, most of the world’s workers — a staggering 93 percent — continue to live in countries that have implemented some form of workplace closures.

As of Wednesday, the World Health Organization reported more than 11.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, and nearly 540,000 deaths.

The UN chief pointed out that while some countries are just entering the worst days of the pandemic, others are struggling to open up their economies amid the threat of a resurgence in cases.

“But let’s be clear: it’s not a choice between health or jobs and the economy,” he said. “They are interlinked. We will either win on all fronts or fail on all fronts.”

The UN chief underscored the importance of global solidarity as no country can solve the crisis alone.

“This global summit is an opportunity for governments, workers and employers’ representatives to shape winning responses,” said the secretary-general.

“Responses that stimulate the economy and employment. Solutions that support enterprises, decent jobs, and incomes. Approaches that safeguard workers and expand social protection. Plans that promote gender equality and reinforce social cohesion. Proposals that protect the most vulnerable and invest in essential workers — such as those in health and care services — who are on the frontlines of the response. And above all, initiatives that are grounded in unity and solidarity.”

Leaders addressed the summit via video messages, outlining how their countries or organizations are responding to the crisis.

The summit was preceded by five regional virtual events held last week looking at the challenges of recovery and building a better future of work after the pandemic.

United States: extending support and lowering regulatory barriers could energize the recovery from Covid-19

Swift action by the U.S. government has helped shield households and businesses from the immediate economic shock of the Covid-19 pandemic, even as efforts continue to bring the spread of the virus under control. Continuing this exceptional support to unemployed workers and struggling firms – while taking steps to lower barriers to labor mobility and competition – would help to strengthen the recovery, share the benefits across society, and reduce the risk of long-lasting scars, according to a new OECD report.

The latest OECD Economic Survey of the United States says that even as some businesses reopen with the lifting of coronavirus confinement measures, hard-hit sectors like hospitality and leisure will continue to need support, as will newly unemployed or displaced workers who may need to look for jobs in different sectors. The recent extension of the US Paycheck Protection Program by five weeks to August 8 is a welcome move to help small businesses struggling with the crisis. Extending exceptional unemployment benefits beyond the end-July cut-off date would offer a similar lifeline to the millions of households at risk of falling into poverty, as would assistance for job search (such as employment placement services) and support for geographic mobility.

“The U.S. economy is battling a health and economic shock that threatens to set back the significant economic achievements of the past decade and leave permanent scars,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “Exceptional support to people and businesses should be continued as long as it is needed. And helping people to return to work by removing unnecessary regulatory hurdles to employment and mobility would energize the recovery and help ward off a drop in living standards and equality.” Read the full speech.

The Survey projects only a gradual recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic brought a decade-long expansion to an abrupt halt and knocked the employment-to-population ratio to its lowest level on record. The best-case scenario sees GDP growth recovering to 4.1% in 2021 after a drop of 7.3% in 2020, whereas a second wave of outbreak scenario would see GDP growth at just 1.9% in 2021 after an 8.5% drop in 2020.

Improving health policy co-ordination across levels of government, ensuring health insurance systems do not let large population groups fall through the gaps that exist between different programs, and reducing regulatory barriers, would all help to tackle the ongoing health crisis from Covid-19. To minimize the risk of a second wave prompting another large-scale lockdown of the economy, developing testing, tracking, tracing, and isolating procedures will be key. Augmenting the capacity of health systems and identifying people who have acquired antibodies will help mitigate the economic impact of a second wave.

On the economic front, all efforts should focus on reviving growth and jobs for the long-term, with concrete policy measures to remove barriers hindering access to employment and future opportunities.

Addressing occupational licensing and non-competition covenants in job contracts that impose barriers to job mobility on roughly one in five workers, particularly those from low-skilled or disadvantaged groups, is a top priority. While regulation is important to ensure the safety and quality of services for workers and consumers, state-level labor market regulation has contributed to a decline in labor market fluidity since the late 1990s, alongside a period of sluggish productivity growth. (See Survey Chapter 3 for an analysis of variations in licensing stringency by state.)

States should be encouraged to delicense occupations where there are limited concerns for public health or safety and act against anticompetitive behavior. Federal law can be used to impose recognition of out-of-State licensures, allowing States to set stricter requirements only if they can prove it is necessary to protect the public. People who face difficulties finding work, for example those without a college education, should be supported through more flexible rules on job qualifications and access to adult training.

Restrictive building policies have also created a barrier to labor mobility just as a shift from industry to high-tech and services is changing the country’s economic geography and creating a need for more elastic housing supply. In the current climate, it is all the more important that people can move easily to take up new jobs. Tax incentives can be a way to loosen over-restrictive building laws, the Survey says.

The Survey also notes that vulnerabilities in the highly leveraged corporate sector will need to be monitored. Over time, given the pre-existing pressures of an ageing population, reforms to pension and healthcare spending to reduce cost pressures and inefficiencies and measures to broaden the tax base will be needed to ensure long-run sustainability of public debt.

Why kids are often spared from severe COVID-19, reveals study

Differences in lung physiology and immune function in children could be why they are more often spared from severe illness associated with COVID-19 than adults, say researchers.

According to the study, published in the journal ‘American Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology’, only about 1.7 per cent of the first 149,082 cases in the US were infants, children, and adolescents younger than 18 years old.

The researchers noted that children under 18 make up 22 per cent of the US population and only three pediatric deaths were identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of April 2020.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2s, called ACE2, are the doors that allow SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, to enter the body’s cells. Children naturally have less ACE2 in the lungs than adults, the study said.

“ACE2 are important for viral entry and there seems to be less of them in children because they increase with age,” said study senior author Matthew Harting from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) in the US.

In addition to fewer ACE2 receptors, the authors noted the immune system in children responds to viruses differently than that of adults, leaving less opportunity for severe illness in pediatric patients.

There are several different mechanisms behind the differences, including the retention of T-cells in children, which are able to fight off or limit inflammation.

“T-cells have a viral response and also an immune modulator response. In severe cases of adult COVID-19 patients, we’ve seen that those T-cells are reduced, so the ability to fight the virus is also reduced,” said study co-author Harry Karmouty-Quintana.

“In kids, those T-cells seem to be maintained, so they are still able to prevent the virus,” Karmouty-Quintana added.

Lung tissue in children naturally has a higher concentration of regulator T-cells. Patients with higher levels of T-cells also have higher levels of Interleukin 10 (IL-10), also known as human cytokine synthesis inhibitory factor, an anti-inflammatory cytokine.

“IL-10 inhibits the inflammation of other components like IL-6 that are detrimental. Adults tend to experience hyperinflammatory state, while kids do not,” Karmouty-Quintana informed.

“In preclinical studies in mice, IL-10 has also shown to decrease with age,” the study authors wrote.

Recently, a 26-country review compiled from 131 studies, the largest systematic review to date of children and young adults with COVID-19, found that the majority of children with COVID-19 fared well clinically compared to adults during the first four months of the pandemic.

WTO, ICC and B20 call for action to narrow the growing trade finance gap

The WTO, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and B20 Saudi Arabia issued a joint statement on 9 July pointing to the diminishing availability of trade finance. Warning that gaps between trade finance supply and demand could seriously impede the ability of trade to support post COVID-19 economic recovery, they are urging private and public-sector actors to work together to address shortages.

The joint call for action, which highlights the importance of cross-border trade in driving economic recovery from the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, has its origins in a WTO Trade Dialogues meeting with the private sector in May, where concerns about trade finance featured prominently.

Trade finance is a critical element in re-igniting world-wide growth in imports and exports, the statement reiterates. Since the need for trade finance is estimated to be between USD 2 trillion and USD 5 trillion, meeting this demand and addressing the shortfall will be challenging. There is serious concern that the growing gap between demand and supply will particularly affect micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and businesses in developing countries, with important implications for jobs and incomes. 

The call to action welcomed a recent joint pledge by the heads of the WTO and six multilateral development banks to monitor and address trade finance gaps, particularly for developing countries and small businesses.

The WTO, the ICC and B20 Saudi Arabia also welcomed the measures taken to stabilize trade finance markets. They urged the private and public sectors to work together to bring about a rapid transition to paperless trading, including e-documents in the processing of trade finance transactions. In addition, the statement called for an exchange of views on how regulatory authorities can help ease constraints on the provision of trade finance. It also proposed increased risk sharing to support trade finance and the extension of development bank schemes to provide risk mitigation.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said:

“Failing to address the trade finance shortfall will seriously undermine ongoing efforts to give trade the boost it needs to help global economic recovery. I very much welcome the private sector’s push to work jointly with the public sector in addressing the gaps. This initiative complements the WTO’s recent initiative, together with multilateral development banks, to highlight the importance of supporting trade finance amid the ongoing health and economic crises.”

The joint statement emphasizes that timely interventions are vital to ensure MSMEs in particular have continued access to trade finance as a means of weathering the present crisis.

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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