Tag: efforts

Lebanon’s Bassil Criticises Hariri Efforts to Form Government | World News

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanese Christian politician Gebran Bassil criticised Sunni former prime minister Saad al-Hariri on Tuesday for putting himself forward to lead a government that would champion a French initiative to resolve the country’s deep economic crisis.

Hariri has begun consultations with the president, parliamentary speaker and Lebanese political blocs about forming a government that would implement President Emmanuel Macron’s roadmap for reforms and unlock international aid.

He has said his mission was to form a six-month government of technocrats to rapidly carry out the reform plan set out in Macron’s initiative.

“We were not aware, and nobody informed us, that President Macron had appointed a high commissioner… to Lebanon, and made a prefect for us to oversee his initiative and the extent of its implementation,” Bassil said in a speech to supporters.

“Whoever wants to head a government of technocrats has to be a technocrat himself,” said Bassil, who heads Lebanon’s biggest Christian bloc, the Free Patriotic Movement. A former foreign minister, Bassil is also President Michel Aoun’s son-in-law.

Aoun will hold formal consultations on Thursday about nominating a prime minister to form a new government to replace Hassan Diab’s cabinet, which resigned two months ago after a powerful explosion damaged much of Beirut and killed 200 people.

Diab’s nominated replacement has been unable to form a government after the powerful Shi’ite group Hezbollah and its political allies insisted on nominating the finance minister.

Lebanon is suffering its worst financial collapse since a 1975-1990 civil war. Foreign donors have made clear there will be no fresh aid unless Lebanese leaders launch reforms to tackle graft and improve governance, and engage in IMF negotiations.

(Reporting by Samia Nakhoul and Ellen Francis, writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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UK government ‘thwarting independent labs’ efforts to step up Covid-19 testing’

One of the UK’s most senior scientists has strongly criticised the government’s approach to coronavirus testing, saying it is too slow, too centralised and stifles efforts to protect the most vulnerable.



Paul Nurse standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Photograph: Andy Hall/The Observer


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Andy Hall/The Observer

Sir Paul Nurse, the Nobel laureate and director of the Francis Crick Institute in London, said independent laboratories could provide up to 100,000 tests a day – a third of the UK’s current testing capacity – with government support.

Nurse told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it has to be a different approach from the centralised labs. Not substituting for them but additional to them … It has to be better joined up, which is not the strategy we have at the moment.”

Ministers have faced searing criticism of the testing strategy after a huge data blunder saw nearly 16,000 coronavirus cases left off the system, meaning up to 50,000 of their close contacts were not told they had to self-isolate.

Nurse, a Nobel prize-winning geneticist, said the Francis Crick Institute was providing thousands of tests for 10 hospitals and 90 care homes in London but that attempts to scale up its output had been thwarted by the Department of Health and Social Care.



Paul Nurse standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Sir Paul Nurse at the Francis Crick Institute in London. He said: ‘When we try to buy the equipment we’re told we can’t buy it because it’s all earmarked for the Lighthouse labs.’


© Photograph: Andy Hall/The Observer
Sir Paul Nurse at the Francis Crick Institute in London. He said: ‘When we try to buy the equipment we’re told we can’t buy it because it’s all earmarked for the Lighthouse labs.’

Related: Sir Paul Nurse: ‘The UK has taken a leap several decades into the past’

He said: “The NHS has just asked the Crick to up our output to 10,000 tests a day – 50-60,000 a week. We can easily do that but we need equipment. When we try to buy the equipment we’re told we can’t buy it because it’s all earmarked for the Lighthouse labs. The NHS wants us to up our game but then the Department of Health puts blocks in the way that prevent us from doing it.”

Nurse said the Crick’s laboratory was staffed mostly by volunteers “who have a sense of civic duty” and that all of its test results were returned to patients within 24 hours, most within 12 hours. At the government’s Lighthouse laboratories only 38% of in-person tests were returned within 24 hours in the most recent week for which figures are available.

Nurse, the former president of the Royal Society, said said the health secretary, Matt Hancock, “needs to look at what’s happening on the ground”.

He said: “We cannot buy the equipment because we’re told it has to go to the Lighthouse labs. We’re also hearing all the time anecdotal evidence how those that work in hospitals do not get tested and this includes everybody, those with or without symptoms.”

He said the Lighthouse labs were needed but that smaller laboratories could provide “up to 100,000 tests [a day] with a much more efficient turnaround but they need to be encouraged, they need to get

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Warren, Durbin letter to Barr slams BOP’s coronavirus containment efforts

Federal prisoners, corrections staff, government inspectors and civil rights advocates have complained for months that the BOP’s strategies, when useful, are inconsistently applied. The overall inadequate response is leaving a vulnerable population at risk of infection and creating major vectors for transmission more than seven months into the pandemic. Since the start of the outbreak, more than 17,000 federal prisoners and staffers have tested positive and more than 130 have died.

“This is mounting evidence that efforts to contain the virus within BOP facilities are failing,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote to Barr and Carvajal in one of the Oct. 2 letters, which were viewed by The Washington Post.

The letters capture Democratic lawmakers’ mounting frustrations with Barr and Carvajal, who, since March, have reportedly ignored lawmakers’ concerns, like the ones raised in the October letter.

Though incarceration rates have slowed in recent years, prison overcrowding remains an issue in the federal system. The combination of overcrowding, chronic staffing shortages and aging facilities makes prison facilities particularly ill-equipped to adapt to social distancing, ventilation, sanitation and other health guidelines that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, according to prisoners, staffers and inmate advocates.

The Post previously reported that prison staff have raised concerns about a lack of personal protective equipment and unsafe workplace conditions — issues that have prompted federal employees to sue the government. According to reports by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General on federal corrections facilities nationwide, persistent staffing shortage has triggered regular lockdowns during the pandemic in which prisoners aren’t allowed out of their cells, are often unable to shower and face more restrictions than if they were in solitary confinement.

“We’ve officially been on a quarantine lockdown since April 1 and haven’t been outdoors despite CDC’s recommendation to get as much fresh air as possible,” a prisoner at the Federal Correctional Complex Coleman facility in central Florida told The Post in an Oct. 2 message. “The windows don’t open and there’s no ventilation to filter in fresh air.”

The prisoner, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation, said few in his unit of more than 160 people have been approved for compassionate release; between coronavirus-related compassionate release and the First Step Act — the 2018 criminal justice reform law that generally expanded prisoner eligibility for compassionate release — he estimated that four to six people have been released since the pandemic took hold.

The prisoner described those in his unit as mostly middle-aged men who have underlying or preexisting conditions that would make them eligible for relief under the order that Barr signed in March that would allow more prisoners to finish their sentences at home to ease their social distancing and health-care challenges.

Within weeks of the statement, the Department of Justice repeatedly changed the eligibility criteria.

Durbin and Warren wrote that despite Barr’s direction, the BOP has transferred only “about four

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Global efforts required to realise low carbon society: energy expert

The current energy saving goals and renewable energy policy in EAS (East Asia Summit) countries will contribute to reducing fossil fuel consumption as well as CO2 emissions mitigation, a senior official from the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) said.

At the recent GECF Monthly Lecture Series on “EAS Energy Outlook”, special adviser (Energy Affairs) to ERIA President, Shigeru Kimura said unless the US and China take the lead on this transformation, any shift towards the low carbon society will be inadequate.
Special adviser (Energy Affairs) to ERIA President, Shigeru Kimura was speaking at the recent GECF Monthly Lecture Series on ‘EAS Energy Outlook’

“Further, seeing the ASEAN transition from 2017 to 2050 … the region is actually increasing coal, increasing natural gas, and increasing oil, but the renewables only get a little bit rise. That is the ASEAN reality,” Kimura noted during the online lecture.
EAS is a regional grouping of 18 countries, which brings together the Asean nations and countries in the Pacific Ocean, including Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and the US.
The Jakarta-based ERIA has worked extensively with the EAS, particularly with its Energy Cooperation Task Force (ECTF) in driving its three major streams of promotion of energy efficiency and conservation (EEC), penetration of biofuels, and renewable and alternative power generation with research and data.
ERIA also compiles the biennial energy outlook of the EAS.
Appreciating the detailed presentation on the mechanics of the EAS Energy Outlook, GECF secretary general Yury Sentyurin said, “The suggestions you have made regarding the low carbon society are important for the GECF because we recognise the vital and crucial role that natural gas will play in energy transition and sustainable development, as well as in post-pandemic recovery.
“ERIA’s own projections (2015-2050) show that energy consumption in this important region of the world will increase by 2.5 times, while power generation demand will increase by three times during the same period. Here, I see potential for fuel substitution, especially in the power generation and transport sectors, if gas-based infrastructure affordability grows and more favourable policy measures are undertaken,” noted Sentyurin, while highlighting that these recommended steps are in line with the 2019 Malabo Declaration of the 5th GECF Gas Summit of Heads of State and Government, which also emphasises the importance of cooperation amongst various stakeholders.
The latest edition of the EAS Energy Outlook (2019-2020) estimates that the East Asia Summit countries will witness 3.1% increase in economic growth annually between 2017 and 2050, while its population will increase from 3.89bn in 2017 to 4.43bn in 2050.
At the same time until 2050, the share of fossil fuels in the EAS will be more than 80% in the business-as-usual scenario and 70% in the case of alternative-policy-scenario.
The EAS Energy Outlook also forecasts that between 2017 and 2050 the share of natural gas in the final energy consumption of the EAS region will increase from 12% to 14%.
According to Kimura, policymakers make informed decisions

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