US Gulf Coast braces for arrival of Tropical Storm Cristobal

A re-energised Tropical Storm Cristobal continued its advance towards the US Gulf Coast early on Sunday, having spawned a tornado in Florida and brought heavy rains that already caused flooding and mudslides in Mexico and Central America.

After weakening to a tropical depression while moving over land in Mexico’s Gulf coast, Cristobal headed back into the southern Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula on Friday and powered back up into a tropical storm.

Forecasters said it would arrive on US soil late on Sunday but was not expected to grow into a hurricane.

Squalls with tropical-force winds reached the mouth of the Mississippi River by Sunday morning and conditions were expected to deteriorate, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

Cristobal’s maximum sustained winds remained at 85kmph (50mph) and it was moving north at 19kmph (12mph), centred about 225km (140 miles) south-southwest from the mouth of the Mississippi River.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm was expected to slowly strengthen until making landfall.

But the storm already made its presence felt on Saturday evening with a tornado that touched down near downtown Orlando, the National Weather Service said. The twister just missed a group of protesters at Lake Eola in the evening. There appeared to be no injuries, but tree limbs were knocked down, and there were reports of power outages.

The Hurricane Center said the storm could cause heavy rains from East Texas to Florida this weekend and into early next week.

A tropical storm warning was posted for the northern Gulf of Mexico coast from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the Alabama-Florida border. Storm surge warnings and watches were in effect in Louisiana and Mississippi, with flooding up to five feet (1.5 metres) expected in some places.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency to prepare for the storm’s possible arrival.

Cristobal formed this week in the Bay of Campeche from the remnants of Tropical Storm Amanda, which had sprung up last weekend in the eastern Pacific and hit Central America.

SOURCE: AP NEWS AGENCY

Brazil stops publishing coronavirus numbers

Brazil’s government has stopped publishing a running total of coronavirus deaths and infections in an extraordinary move that critics have called an attempt to hide the true toll of the disease in Latin America’s largest nation.

The Saturday move came after months of criticism from experts saying Brazil’s statistics are woefully deficient, and in some cases manipulated, so it may never be possible to gain a real understanding of the depth of the pandemic in the country.

Brazil’s last official numbers showed it had recorded more than 34,000 deaths related to the coronavirus, the third-highest number in the world, just ahead of Italy. It reported nearly 615,000 infections, putting it at the second highest, behind the United States. Brazil, with about 210 million people, is the globe’s seventh most populous nation.

On Friday, the federal health ministry took down a website that had shown daily, weekly and monthly figures on infections and deaths in Brazilian states. On Saturday, the site returned but the total numbers of infections for states and the nation were no longer there. The site now shows only the numbers for the previous 24 hours.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tweeted on Saturday that disease totals are “not representative” of the country’s current situation.

A Bolsonaro ally, O Globo newspaper, reported that some states providing figures to the health ministry had sent falsified data, implying that they were exaggerating the toll. 

Carlos Wizard, a businessman expected to assume a high-level post in the health ministry, said the federal government would be conducting a review intended to determine a “more accurate”‘ toll.

“The number we have today is fanciful or manipulated,” Wizard said.

A council of state health secretaries said it would fight the changes by Bolsonaro, who has dismissed the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic and tried to thwart attempts to impose quarantines, curfews and social distancing, arguing those steps are causing more damage to the economy than the pandemic. 

“The authoritarian, insensitive, inhumane and unethical attempt to make the COVID-19 deaths invisible will not prosper,” the health secretaries’ council said on Saturday.

While precise counts of cases and deaths are difficult for governments worldwide, health researchers have been saying for weeks that a series of serious irregularities with Brazilian government statistics was making it impossible to get a handle on an exploding situation.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

Don’t celebrate victory over coronavirus yet: Pope

Pope Francis warned Italians to not let their guard down against coronavirus now that infection rates have fallen and urged them to obey government rules on social distancing and wearing masks.

Francis, addressing several hundred people in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday blessing, reacted to applause that broke out when he said their presence, albeit reduced, was a sign that Italy had overcome the acute phase of the pandemic.

“Be careful. Don’t cry victory too soon,” he cautioned them, departing from his prepared text.

Nearly 34,000 people have died in Italy from the coronavirus, the fourth highest toll in the world after the United States, Britain and Brazil.

South Africa government, private hospitals agree deal on COVID-19 patients

The South African government has agreed how much it will pay private hospitals and medical practitioners to treat severely ill COVID-19 patients if public hospitals run out of space, a senior health official told the Reuters news agency.

The government has been in talks for months with private firms and medical associations ahead of a probable scenario where public hospitals run out of critical care beds.

Agreement has been reached on a daily fee of up to 16,000 rand ($950) for COVID-19 patients that get treated in critical care beds in private hospitals, said Anban Pillay, the health ministry’s deputy director-general for national health insurance.

N40bn scandal : I didn’t ask EFCC to probe Akpabio, says Omo-Agege

The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, has described as fake, a letter purportedly written on his behalf by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Nelson Ayewoh.

The letter, which started circulating on the various social media platforms since Sunday morning, was allegedly written by the Clerk on Omo-Agege’s behalf to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu.

Omo-Agege, according to the discredited letter, allegedly urged the EFCC boss to commence investigation on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, over allegations of corruption levelled against him.

The National Assembly is currently probing allegations that the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC, allegedly mismanaged N40bn in three months and had demanded written explanations from Akpabio, whose Ministry supervises the activities of the intervention agency.

But Omo-Agege, through a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yomi Odunuga, on Sunday, denied asking the Senate Clerk to write any letter to the EFCC Chairman.

Describing the document as fake, the DSP insisted that he never instructed the Clerk or any other person to contact the EFCC to investigate any individual.

Part of the statement read, “The attention of the Office of the Deputy President of the Senate has been drawn to a letter dated 7th May, 2020, purportedly written by the Clerk of the Senate acting on behalf of the Office of Deputy President of the Senate requesting the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate and monitor the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and one other.

“This Office hereby states that the said letter is false, fake, malicious, mischievous and vexatious.

“This Office never instructed the Clerk of the Senate, or in fact any person, to write to or contact the EFCC in relation to any person.

“In the light of the foregoing, we wish to urge the public to disregard the fake letter, same being the handiwork of a person or persons with criminal intents.”

What we do and don’t know about the extremists taking part in riots across the US

The Most Revolutionary Act

george floyd protests

Keith Preston

There are plenty of Antifa, boogaloos/accelerationists, “white supremacists,” “anarchists,” etc. involved in this but there is not anywhere near enough of them to make an insurrection this large happen. All of these “extremist” groups are just a side issue that is barely relevant at all. This is a popular rebellion against the police state, a replay of 1968, or an intensified 1992.

(CNN)Law enforcement and federal officials say outside elements from both far-right and far-left groups are helping fuel the violent and damaging confrontations that have marred protests across the country in recent days, despite President Donald Trump’s focus just on Antifa and the far left […]

via What we do and don’t know about the extremists taking part in riots across the US

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Washington DC Neighbors Shelter Peaceful Protestors

The Most Revolutionary Act

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoor

Keith Preston

If you’re not following the Swann Street siege story this morning, it’s incredible.

Yesterday evening, D.C. police forced a large group of peaceful protesters and demonstrators into a residential neighborhood in a tactic known as “kettling.”

Kettling is a military technique to encircle people, to box them in on all sides, into a smaller and smaller and smaller space where they can’t retreat or escape from. In American protests, it’s often accompanied by police forces taking advantage of the fact that protesters can’t retreat to inflict maximum harm with teargas, batons, and other weapons for an extended period before doing mass arrests.

It’s not a dispersement technique, it’s the complete opposite — it’s a technique of intense aggression, and it’s controversial because it’s seldom used in good faith and often results in intense prolonged violence, with the intention of also cutting everyone caught in the kettle off from…

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NED: CIA-Funded Regime Change Body Praises George Floyd Protests

The Most Revolutionary Act

RT | June 6, 2020

The National Endowment for Democracy, a soft-power group mostly known for splashing government dollars on pro-US influence campaigns overseas to enforce regime change, has endorsed protests against police brutality at home.

In a statement on Friday, the NED came out in support of the protests against the police killing of unarmed black man George Floyd, which, while originally peaceful, spiralled into violence, wrecking havoc across dozens of US cities. The group, which styles itself as a “private and nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world” but is notorious for being used as a vehicle of US foreign policy abroad, said that it hopes that the movement for racial justice in the US will inspire other “brave people” to challenge the status quo all around the globe.

“Such a movement is needed not just for the sake of our…

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