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New Brazil far-right president targets left-wing ‘ideology’

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By AFP
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Brazil’s new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro declared a crusade against crime, corruption and left-wing ideology as he took office Tuesday for a four-year term at the helm of Latin America’s biggest nation.

In his first public speech wearing the presidential sash, Mr Boslonaro said Brazil will “start to free itself of socialism” and “political correctness,” breaking with policies brought in under decades of leftist rule.

The 63-year-old former paratrooper and veteran lawmaker received swift congratulations via Twitter from US President Donald Trump, with whom he shares a similar, brash style and outlook.

“Congratulations to President @jairbolsonaro who just made a great inauguration speech — the U.S.A. is with you!” Trump wrote.

Mr Bolsonaro responded by saying: “I truly appreciate your words of encouragement. Together, under God’s protection, we shall bring prosperity and progress to our people!”

In his inauguration speech before Brazil’s Congress, Mr Bolsonaro called for “a true national pact” to restore his country’s lackluster economy, “without ideological bias.”

While Mr Bolsonaro enjoys sky-high approval ratings, many in Brazil fear his nostalgia for the military dictatorship that reigned from 1964 to 1985, his hard-line approach to fighting crime and his record of disparaging women and minorities could herald a harsh shake-up.

Even before being sworn in, Bolsonaro tweeted he would issue a decree easing gun laws to let “good” citizens own firearms to counter armed criminals — a measure opposed by 61 percent of Brazilians, according to a Datafolha survey.

His promise to extend immunity to security forces who use lethal force against suspected wrongdoers has also sparked unease in a country where some 5,000 people a year are already killed by police.

In his speech to Congress, Mr Bolsonaro repeatedly hammered left-wing “ideology” that he said had brought Brazil low.

His past remarks made it clear he was referring to policies implemented by the Workers Party, which governed between 2003 and 2016 but ended up reviled for a string of corruption scandals.

Brazil “will return to be a country free of ideological bonds,” he said.

He later told a crowd of supporters in front of the presidential palace: “We will re-establish order.”

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Mr Bolsonaro has already said he will do all he can to challenge the leftist governments of Venezuela and Cuba.

In a sign of his leanings and alliances, Mr Bolsonaro warmly welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Brazil for his inauguration, and both leaders spoke of their “brotherhood.”

Mr Netanyahu said Mr Bolsonaro had assured him Brazil’s embassy will be moved to Jerusalem.

Mr Bolsonaro also admires Trump, with whom he shares nationalist instincts and a disdain of multilateral organisations. He has vowed to pull Brazil out of a UN global migration pact, and is considering doing the same with the Paris climate accord.

The new leader’s open hostility to the left prompted left-wing deputies to spurn his investiture.

Mr Bolsonaro took over the presidency from a centre-right figure, Michel Temer, who succeeded the Workers Party Dilma Rousseff — impeached in 2016 — but who made little headway with needed fiscal reforms. Temer, Brazil’s most unpopular leader ever, faces a number of corruption accusation on leaving office.

Mr Bolsonaro supporters hope their man will do better, politically and economically.

He has promised to govern for all of the country’s 210 million Brazilians, though his initial declaration suggests it will be on his terms, as he seeks to remake the country around his agenda.

While his government, which takes over on Wednesday, features a US-trained free market advocate as economy minister, and a star anti-corruption judge as justice minister, nearly a third of the 22 ministerial posts are held by ex-military men.

There are also concerns for Brazil’s extensive and diverse natural environment, with Mr Bolsonaro’s pro-business push sidelining preservation — especially in the Amazon, sometimes called “the lungs of the planet,” which is at risk from increasing deforestation.

Mr Bolsonaro, meanwhile, has said his education ministry will stop “Marxist trash” being taught in schools and universities — another swipe at the Workers Party, which greatly boosted access to education for the poor and blacks.

Tens of thousands of people attended Mr Bolsonaro’s inauguration ceremony in Brasilia, which was held under tight security that included warplane patrols, anti-drone technology and multiple crowd barriers.

Precautions were more stringent than in years past, in part because Mr Bolsonaro survived a stabbing attack by a mentally unstable man when he was campaigning for the presidency in September.

“This inauguration is a turning point,” said one in the crowd, 36-year-old teacher Mauro Penna. “We are very optimistic — this time our country is going to change.”

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

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.

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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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