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Trump offers ‘compromise’ to end shutdown

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US President Donald Trump has set out new plans on his Mexican wall project to try to end a partial government shutdown lasting more than four weeks.

One of his “compromises” was on so-called Dreamers – who entered the US illegally when young. He still wants $5.7bn (£4.5bn) to fund the wall.

Democrats have refused to fund it and ahead of the speech had already rejected the expected concessions.

The shutdown, the longest in history, has affected 800,000 federal workers.

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What was in Mr Trump’s address?

The president started by saying the US had a proud history of welcoming migrants, but that the system had been “badly broken for a very long time”.

He said he was “here to break the logjam and provide Congress with a path forward to end the government shutdown”.

He again spelled out his reasons for building the wall and stressed it was not a continuous structure, just one of steel barriers in high-priority areas. But the demand for $5.7bn to fund it remains.

The two new ideas concerned the Dreamers and Temporary Protection Status (TPS) holders.

There are some 700,000 Dreamers, who were young when they entered the US with their parents illegally,

The Dreamers are currently protected from deportation under a programme that allows them to work but not get citizenship. It is a programme Mr Trump has been trying to rescind.

But he said he would extend protection for Dreamers for another three years, allowing them continued access to work permits.

He said he would also extend the visas for TPS holders for three years. More than 300,000 people from countries affected by war or disasters are allowed to work in the US under TPS, another system Mr Trump has opposed.

There were other proposals, including $800m in urgent humanitarian assistance, 2,750 more border agents and security officials and 75 new immigration judge teams. Certainly the latter conforms largely with Democrat suggestions.

The president said his proposals were “reasonable with lots of compromise” and would “build trust and goodwill”.

Shutdown likely to drag on

Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Donald Trump struck a deal to reopen the government and build his much-promised wall – with one small problem.

He was negotiating with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and if he wants to succeed he’s going to have to get Democrats on board.

It’s a touch ironic that the deal Mr Trump outlined – his wall in exchange for protection for certain childhood undocumented migrants and temporary resident aliens – was one the president walked away from last year, when Democrats were the ones instigating a shutdown.

After senators thought they had an agreement, the White House issued new demands for reforms to legal immigration.

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Now Democrats are in control of the House, and the calculus has changed. Mr Trump’s offer of temporary immigrant protection probably isn’t any greater than the ones courts have already imposed.

The president’s move may put some pressure on his opponents to return to the negotiating table, but they still feel they have the upper hand. Unless that changes – or the president backs down – the shutdown will drag on.

What have Congressional leaders said?

The Democrats responded even before the speech went out.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the concessions “a non-starter” and “a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives”.

“What we didn’t hear from the President was any sympathy for the federal workers who face so much uncertainty because of the chaos of the #TrumpShutdown,” Mrs Pelosi tweeted.

Other key Democrats pre-emptively rejected the plans, sticking by the party’s position that it would not negotiate until government was reopened.

After the announcement, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said Mr Trump had “single-handedly” taken away Dreamers and TPS protections and that offering some protections back was “not a compromise but more hostage taking”.

On the Republican side, Mr McConnell hailed the president’s proposal as a “bold solution to re-open the government, secure the border, and take bipartisan steps toward addressing current immigration issues”.

Mr McConnell would be seeking Senate passage of the proposal next week, his spokesman said.

Opinion polls suggest most voters blame Mr Trump for the shutdown.

How is the shutdown affecting unpaid workers?

Some of the 800,000 federal employees who have been going unpaid since 22 December are in increasingly dire straits.

More than 1,500 appeals have been set up by them on crowdfunding site GoFundMe, seeking a financial lifeline to pay rent or feed and clothe their children.

In desperation, the Department of Agriculture, the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Aviation Administration have just recalled more than 50,000 employees, who must work without pay.



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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.

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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.

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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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