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Beto and Ted — Who’s Ahead? – Opinion –





Ted Cruz versus Beto O’Rourke! In verbal combat! Yes, people, we just had the first big debate of the election season.

The super-cool El Paso congressman versus the U.S. senator so unbeloved that his own party is moaning about the likability problem.

Challenged to say something nice about his opponent, O’Rourke praised Cruz for his hard work, and thanked him for his public service. In response, Cruz said O’Rourke was “absolutely sincere” and compared him to that socialist Bernie Sanders.

And so it goes.

No one had really anticipated the Texas race would be a contest — the Democrats haven’t had a senator there since the year Britney Spears joined the Mickey Mouse Club.

But O’Rourke has way overachieved expectations. He’s raised tons more money than Cruz, and none whatsoever from PACs. While the polls are all over the place, some have shown him closing in fast.

During the first minute of the debate, O’Rourke managed to point out that he’d visited all 254 Texas counties during his campaign. (Hitting every single county at least once is a classic political ploy, but try doing it in Texas.) He was, inevitably, asked about a drunken-driving arrest in his past and managed to veer into both a salute to his family and a tribute to second chances.

Cruz has a long experience as a debater, and Republicans are generally cheered when he gets out of their faces and onto the podium. On Friday he pushed very hard on gun rights — he staunchly took a stand that no Texan should be “shot and killed in their own home.” When O’Rourke talked about the danger of assault weapons, Cruz said the real problem was “removing God from the public square.”

Whatever else you feel, you’d have to admit this race has been darned interesting. Beside the normal fights over guns and health care and immigration, at one point the Cruz campaign called O’Rourke a “Triple Meat Whataburger liberal who is out of touch with Texas values.” The state is still not entirely clear on what that means. Whataburger is a popular fast-food chain, and it seemed a lot like announcing your opponent was a left-wing Big Mac.

O’Rourke responded by eating a Whataburger and then skateboarding around the restaurant parking lot. We definitely need more of this kind of cheery diversion in politics. People are already talking about a presidential run if he wins. Actually, Beto is so hot that people are speculating about a presidential run if he loses.

Immigration was naturally a big issue in the debate; O’Rourke defended the Dreamers while Cruz implied that his opponent loved illegal immigrants more than Texans. It will be interesting to see how this all pans out in November. Outsiders tend to underestimate Texans’ rationality on the subject. You may be shocked to hear that most of them want well-trained border guards who do not separate children from their mothers. Also, they aren’t necessarily crazy about having a monster wall in the backyard.

The debate, unfortunately, did not get around to the first-name flap: When O’Rourke won the nomination in March, Cruz instantly ran a radio ad claiming “liberal Robert” had changed his name to Beto for political purposes.

Inquiring minds quickly noted that Cruz had morphed his own name from Rafael Edward to Ted.


Cruz’s explanation was to remind the world that he was “the son of Rafael Cruz, an immigrant from Cuba who came to Texas with nothing and had $100 in his underwear.”

Not precisely to the point. But the underwear story has always been a staple in Cruz’s political career. Less often mentioned is the fact that Dad actually emigrated from Cuba to Texas to Canada, where little Rafael/Ted was born.

Ethnic politics in Texas is very important, and in this race we have a non-Hispanic Democrat who was born near the Mexican border and was called Beto as a kid. Running against a Cuban-Canadian with an Anglo nickname. Only one of them speaks fluent Spanish, and it is not the one whose father had $100 in his skivvies.

Republicans have complained for years about how irritating they find Cruz. Do you remember when Lindsey Graham said that if Ted Cruz was murdered on the floor of the Senate “and the trial was in the Senate, nobody could convict you?” But that was long ago, before the party had to protect a 51-49 majority. Right now, if Attila the Hun was their candidate they’d be running ads about his great skills in horsemanship.

Cruz, you’ll recall, ran for president in 2016, against a “sniveling coward” named Donald Trump, who insulted Cruz’s wife and claimed his father was connected to the Kennedy assassination. Now all that’s all forgotten. Well, at least ignored.

“I have worked hand in hand with the president on substance,” Cruz said during the debate, veering very quickly into tax cuts and an argument that holding a grudge would be “selfish.”

Meanwhile, Trump is promising to hold a big rally for Cruz in October. And he dispatched Ivanka to tour the space center in Houston with the senator.

Imagine spending the week listening to your father trash Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser and discussing the future of space exploration with Ted Cruz. Sometimes you have to feel sorry for Ivanka. Even if she does refer to herself as The First Daughter.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Gail Collins © 2018 The New York Times


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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard




Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.


However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard




President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health




Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

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Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.


Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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