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August 19, 2016

United Nations admit role in Haitian cholera outbreak of 2010

United Nations admit role in Haitian cholera outbreak of 2010

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Friday, August 19, 2016

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For the first time, the United Nations (U.N) has acknowledged its involvement in the Haiti cholera outbreak of 2010, admitting the disease was carried by Nepalese peace workers, contracted with the earthquake relief on behalf of the U.N.. In an email sent this week, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon admitted that the U.N. played a role in the spread of the disease, which affected hundreds of thousands of Haitian people, but he stopped short of admitting sole culpability for the epidemic.

New York University law professor Philip Alston, convinced Secretary General Ban-ki Moon, that the U.N.’s operation lack of basic hygiene checks was legally indefensible: as quoted in the Washington Post.

Image of cholera bacteria though a scanning electron microscope.
Image: Ronald Taylor, Tom Kirn, Louisa Howard.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the gastrointestinal illness hadn’t been recorded on the island nation prior to this outbreak, inviting immediate speculation over how it began.

Medical researchers tracked the disease to Haiti and found that Nepalese representatives had worked for the United Nations immediately after a mission in Nepal where cholera was present.

Reports from the United Nations indicate that this admission will lead to an overhaul in approaches to peacekeeping missions. According to a statement from Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesperson for the Secretary General, these changes will be developed over the next two months.

The U.N. have long maintained legal immunity in national courts, resulting in the dismissal of a class-action lawsuit in the United States addressing the cholera involvement on Thursday.

The lawsuit was brought by representatives of the victims and their families and sought reparations for the damages brought by the cholera outbreak. The plaintiffs now have the option to appeal to the U.S Supreme Court to overturn this decision.



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August 15, 2015

US embassy reopened in Havana

US embassy reopened in Havana – Wikinews, the free news source

US embassy reopened in Havana

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

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The Embassy of the United States in Havana, Cuba, formally reopened yesterday. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at the ceremony marking the reopening. He hailed the event as a momentous point in history but emphasised that the US would continue to drive for democratic change in Cuba. The ceremony was also attended by three former US Marines, who had lowered the flag when the embassy was closed, and now transferred the flag to current Marines who raised it again.

The two countries have not enjoyed bilateral relations for more than fifty years, since President Eisenhower ordered the closure of the embassy in 1961. However the United States maintained an Interests Section from 1977 onwards, under the Swiss Embassy. On July 20, 2015, Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro officially re-established relations between the two neighbours.

On Thursday, the former long-term Cuban leader Fidel Castro wrote a letter criticising the continued US trade embargo, which will continue despite the thawing in relations. The Republican-dominated US Congress has refused to lift the embargo. There was also discontent from some Cuban dissidents who felt that they should have been invited to the ceremony.



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January 24, 2015

UN Security Council heads to Haiti amid political instability

UN Security Council heads to Haiti amid political instability

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

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Representatives of the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) fifteen member states flew to Haiti yesterday. The nation is moving to hold new elections with President Michel Martelly presently ruling by decree.

President Martelly, seen here in 2012, is ruling by decree after the collapse of parliament.
Image: World Economic Forum.

Martelly swore in a new Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) of nine members yesterday. It is Martelly’s fifth CEP in four years. Last month a presidential commission recommended the prior CEP’s resignation as part of a package of measures to move the country towards new elections. The commission was Martelly’s response to widespread anti-regime protests that started in October. The sometimes-violent protests were triggered by failure to hold elections, some due since 2011.

On January 12 the Senate was reduced to a defunct ten members, with sixteen required for a quorum. Amendments to electoral law were required by the Senate before elections due in 2011 could be held. Rival political factions were unable to resolve disagreements. The lower level of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, also saw all 99 seats vacated.

Also due are municipal elections, with 4,000 local posts needing refilled. A presidential election is due this year and the constitution forbids a consecutive term for Martelly. CEP members were sworn in yesterday at the Supreme Court; the presidential commission also recommended a new head for the court.

This month Martelly installed a new cabinet including opposition members, amongst them appointing Evans Paul as Prime Minister. Paul replaces Laurent Lamothe who resigned last month at the request of Martelly’s commission. Paul was yesterday joined by foreign diplomats to welcome the new CEP in Petionville, the CEP headquarters.

Protests continued around the nation yesterday, with anger directed at foreign leaders who have supported Martelly as well as the local regime. Brazil, Canada, France, Spain, the United States, the European Union, and the Organization of American States expressed in a joint statement “support to the president of the republic in the exercise of his constitutional duty to ensure the regular functioning of institutions and the continuity of the state” as parliament’s terms lapsed and power passed to Martelly alone.

The UN is unpopular in Haiti where many blame their peacekeeping force for a 2010 cholera outbreak, which is ongoing with 9,000 deaths. The UN has extended the peacekeeping mission for another year but does plan to reduce troops from around 5,000 to around 2,400. Anti-peacekeeper protests have also focussed on sexual abuse allegations.



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December 15, 2014

Laurent Lamothe resigns as Haitian PM

Laurent Lamothe resigns as Haitian PM – Wikinews, the free news source

Laurent Lamothe resigns as Haitian PM

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Monday, December 15, 2014

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Laurent Lamothe during a foreign visit earlier this year.
Image: U.S. Department of State.

Laurent Lamothe on Saturday announced his resignation as Prime Minister of Haiti amid political paralysis and anti-regime protests.

Lamothe’s resignation had been recommended on Friday by a commission set up by President Michel Martelly. Martelly appointed Lamothe in 2011, the year after a major earthquake caused widespread devastation. Elections to the Senate, Lower Chamber, and numerous municipal offices were also due in 2011.

The Senate must approve amended electoral law before the votes can occur. At least sixteen of the thirty Senate members must attend to make a quorum. Only twenty places are presently filled, and six opposition members are refusing to attend.

The opposition accuses the government of unfairly favouring themselves with the amendments. In response the government claims opposition politicians wish to delay the votes to retain their seats. Hundreds of municipal seats, all of the Lower House, and most of the Senate all require elected. If votes are not in by January 12 the Senate will be reduced to a defunct ten members.

Lamothe told TV audiences “I am leaving the post of prime minister this evening with a feeling of accomplishment. Vive Haiti.” The nation remains one of the poorest in the world but last year foreign investment was worth US$186 million (£118 million; 149 million), a 20% increase. He also says 84% of children are in education now, compared to 52% when he was appointed.

His social media savvy and multiple languages helped him develop a high profile at home and abroad. He also attempted to simplify business startups, and campaigned with tourism minister Stephanie Villedrouin to improve Haiti’s image abroad. He was Martelly’s third choice for Prime Minister, with Parliament rejecting his first two appointments. Lamothe’s three-year term witnessed three cabinet reshuffles.

Protests over missed elections began in October, with citizens taking to the streets to demand Martelly and Lamothe both resign. The sometimes violent protests have not abated despite Martelly forming the eleven-strong commission late last month to try and reach a resolution.

Martelly has already indicated he accepts the commission’s findings. Also recommended are resignations by the electoral commission and the head of the Supreme Court.



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October 16, 2014

Hurricane warning goes into effect in Bermuda as Gonzalo nears

Hurricane warning goes into effect in Bermuda as Gonzalo nears

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

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Gonzalo today.
Image: NRL Marine Meterology Division/ NOAA.

Bermuda, in the North Atlantic Ocean, is under a hurricane warning after Hurricane Gonzalo was upgraded to Category 4 on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale earlier today.

The hurricane is moving up the North Atlantic Ocean with 140 mph winds (about 225 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. The storm is supposed to come near Bermuda on Friday, and could actually hit Bermuda, according to officials. As a precaution, Bermuda’s L.F. Wade International Airport plans to close until the storm has passed.

The hurricane has already hit the Caribbean earlier this week. One person was killed and a dozen others were injured in that region.

Last weekend, another storm hit Bermuda, causing a power outage and residents were recovering from the damage. Winds from that storm reached 70 miles per hour on Sunday morning and it reached hurricane status on Sunday evening, only to be downgraded again later that night.

Meanwhile, tropical storm Ana in the Pacific Ocean is being monitored and officials predict will become a hurricane this weekend. Winds from this storm reached 60 mile per hour. It could hit Hawaii if it stays on its predicted path.



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September 26, 2013

For Jamaica, 2012 Report on Gender Equality and Development focuses on men

For Jamaica, 2012 Report on Gender Equality and Development focuses on men

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Jamaica
Other stories from Jamaica
  • 4 March 2015: Beverly Hall, indicted public school superintendent, dies aged 68
  • 26 September 2013: For Jamaica, 2012 Report on Gender Equality and Development focuses on men
  • 7 July 2011: Jamaican Olympian and coach Pablo McNeil dies aged 71
  • 28 October 2010: ‘Explosive’ Haitian cholera outbreak kills 292, neighboring countries prepare
  • 23 October 2010: Tropical storm Richard forms, drifts towards Honduras
…More articles here
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Thursday, September 26, 2013

On Tuesday the World Bank released the 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development. For Jamaica the report highlights a number of negative gender issues for the nation’s men.

A group of students and their teacher at Ascot High School in Jamaica
Image: Raw9345.

The report claims that getting an education in Jamaica is viewed as primarily a female activity. This cultural attitude encourages males to leave school early. In 2008, girls outnumbered boys in secondary school by a ratio of 1.04:1. At the same time, boys were more likely to have to repeat a year of school. Only 16% of boys passed five or more Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate exams compared to 30% of girls. Boys outperformed girls only in vocational subjects and physics. The report cites four key challenges in boys’ development identified by a national programme. They are low self-esteem, limited future employment opportunities, lack of discipline, and masculine identities that eschew education.

A program in Jamaica uses cash incentives to encourage at-risk boys to stay in school; other countries like Pakistan use cash incentives to encourage girls to stay in school. Jamaica’s program has resulted an average increase in boys attending school by 0.5 days a month. At the same time, fathers are urged to become more involved with their childrens’ schooling and changes are being made to the curriculum to make it “more boy-friendly”.

Definitions of masculinity result in less employment opportunities and smaller earnings potential. The report claims Jamaican definitions of masculinity also encourage more risky behavior, and sexual behaviors valuing achievement and competence above intimacy. The report says these factors increase physical and sexual violence towards women.

Male mortality is increasing in Jamaica. The report cites crime and violence as causes.



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May 3, 2013

President Obama renews his push to close Guantanamo detention facility

President Obama renews his push to close Guantanamo detention facility

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Friday, May 3, 2013

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With over 100 Guantanamo Bay detainees in a hunger strike against their incarceration, President Barack Obama, on Tuesday, renewed his push for the closure of the facility.

President Obama addressed a news conference at the White House on Tuesday saying he would have a team of officials review the issue before again appealing to Congress to close the prison holding “terror” suspects in Cuba. “I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe,” he said. “It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens co-operation with our allies on counter-terrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed.”

These remarks were made after 40 US Navy medical staff were sent to the facility to deal with the growing hunger strike that began on February 6 this year, where twenty one inmates are now being force fed; five of those are in hospital. “I don’t want these individuals to die,” President Obama said.

Calls by the Center for Constitutional Rights however, have called for President Obama to transfer men from the facility now; a power he has over Congress. “He should use the certification/waiver process created by Congress to transfer detainees, starting with the 86 men who have been cleared for release,” the New York-based group said.

When asked for greater details about President Obama’s intentions, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the president was “considering a range of options for ways that we can reduce the population there,” including “reappointing a senior official at the State Department to renew our focus on repatriating or transferring” lower-risk detainees.



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April 7, 2013

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: close Guantanamo Bay

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: close Guantanamo Bay

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

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Navi Pillay in 2009
Image: Antônio Cruz (Agência Brasil).

Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the United States Friday to close its prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. She argued the continuing indefinite detention without trial violates international law.

“We must be clear about this: the United States is in clear breach not just of its own commitments but also of international laws and standards that it is obliged to uphold”, Pillay stated.

Pillay said those held in Guantanamo Bay should face a civilian trial rather than a military tribunal, as the latter “do not meet international fair trial standards”. The US has only criminally charged or convicted nine current detainees.

Detainees arriving at Camp X-Ray, the forerunner to the current detainment regime, in January 2002.
Image: Shane T. McCoy, U.S. Navy.

The Guantanamo Bay camp was opened in January 2002 by former US President George W. Bush and currently holds 166 detainees. As of last month, 31 of the detainees were on hunger strike and eleven were being force fed, according to a US Department of Defense (DoD) spokesperson. Of the hunger strikers, Pillay said: “given the uncertainty and anxieties surrounding their prolonged and apparently indefinite detention in Guantanamo, it is scarcely surprising that people’s frustrations boil over and they resort to such desperate measures”.

President Barack Obama pledged to close Guantanamo Bay but has thus far failed to do so. The US has cleared transfer of around half of the remaining Guantanamo Bay detainees to their home country or to a third country. Pillay urged those transfers to be acted on: “As a first step, those who have been cleared for release must be released.”

Responding to the statement by Pillay, Lieutenant Colonel Todd Breasseale, a DoD spokesman, defended the camp in a statement to Reuters: “We continue to hold detainees under the internationally recognized Law of War and in keeping with the best of our core values, safeguarding and humanely treating all who are in our care and custody, there. Assertions that present some alternate narrative simply do not withstand intellectual rigor”.



Related news

  • “Obama’s suspension of Guantanamo repatriations criticized” — Wikinews, January 7, 2010
  • UN: Guantanamo Bay should be closed” — Wikinews, May 19, 2006
  • “UN calls for Guantanamo shutdown” — Wikinews, February 16, 2006
  • Guantanamo prisoners stage hunger strike” — Wikinews, September 2, 2005
  • “Amnesty International calls for Guantanamo shutdown” — Wikinews, May 25, 2005

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November 30, 2012

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez returns to Cuba for medical treatment

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez arrived to Cuba early Wednesday morning to seek hyperbaric oxygenation therapy, a treatment typically given to help cancer patients repair bone and tissue damage caused by radiation, among other illnesses. His announcement has once again caused public speculation regarding his health, as the president declared himself free of pelvic cancer nearly five months ago.

In an interview with state television that same day, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said that the president will be back no later than January 10th, the inauguration date for his fourth presidential term.

According to Villegas, Chávez is undergoing “complementary treatment.”

“The people voted for Chávez, as is.” Villegas said. “As we all know, coming out [of radiation therapy] is a difficult process for any human being. Yet he did not listen to those who told him not to get involved in the campaign. He campaigned with an effort exemplary of the extraordinary leader that he is.” He added that “Chávez is a human being. He gets sick.”

Under Venezuelan law, the president must request permission from the National Assembly when leaving the country for longer than five days. In a note read by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello less than 24 hours before the president’s departure, Chávez explained that his doctors in Cuba recommended that he begin the treatment along with physiotherapy to help strengthen his recovery.

Despite having announced that he is “totally free” of cancer, opposition politicians and lawmakers have continued to question the president’s health, citing the administration’s “lack of transparency” during his medical operations as well as a sharp decline in public appearances. Prominent Chávez critic and journalist Teodoro Petkoff recently nicknamed the president “the invisible man.” Meanwhile, opposition assembly member Alfonso Marquina accused Chávez of “attempting to create uncertainty” after Tuesday’s announcement.

Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, told Bloomberg News that Chávez’s sudden departure is an indication that his medical condition is more serious than stated. “You’d anticipate that if he were really doing well he’d want to show that publicly.”

Citing an anonymous sources, Spanish newspaper ABC reported Thursday that Chávez’s pelvic cancer has returned and that he is also suffering from bone metastasis. According to the report, intelligence sources believe Chávez left for Cuba because his cancer returned, as hyperbaric oxygen chambers are available in Venezuela.

However, Vice President Nicolas Maduro told a group of government workers Thursday that the president “is fine, doing very well, and will return even better than before.”

Henrique Capriles Radonski, the main opposition candidate in last month’s presidential elections and Chávez’s biggest political opponent, urged the administration to “speak with absolute transparency to avoid rumors that create anxiety and uncertainty. That is the last thing we want to have in Venezuela.”

His treatment in Cuba comes at an inopportune time for his ruling coalition. Nation-wide gubernatorial elections are scheduled for December 16th, and the opposition, led by Capriles, is looking to strengthen its political base after their candidate’s near 11-point defeat in the October 7th elections.



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September 10, 2012

Hellen Saohaga\’s London performance second best for Solomon Islands at Olympics, Paralympics

Hellen Saohaga’s London performance second best for Solomon Islands at Olympics, Paralympics

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Hellen Saohaga at the Paralympic Village on Friday
Image: Laura Hale.

The Solomon Islands during the Opening Ceremony, with Saohaga as flag-bearer
Image: Laura Hale.

London, England — When Solomon Islander Hellen Saohaga finished fifteenth in Saturday’s women’s shot put – F57/58, she set a personal best and became the second-highest finishing Solomon Islander ever in Olympic and Paralympic competition; only Olympic powerlifter Wendy Hale has bettered her performance, coming twelfth in competition at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Saohaga qualified for this year’s Paralympics on the basis of being a wildcard invite; a representative of the Solomon Islands Paralympic Committee believes, with better coaching and additional training, she has the potential to qualify for the Rio Paralympics on performance grounds.

Saohaga’s best throw in competition was a distance of 5.23 metres. This set a personal-best career throw for the athlete, and sees her finishing with a season’s best score of 228. Her efforts saw her finish ahead of several competitors including: Nephtalie Jean Louis of Haiti, Rhodah Mutale of Zambia, Madinat Abdullayeva, of Azerbaijan and Nadia Medjedj of Algeria.

Excerpt from an interview with Saohaga prior to competition
Image: Laura Hale.

In training at the practice athletics field in London, Saohaga spent time on-field at the same time as Oscar Pistorius, and got her picture taken with the “Blade Runner”.



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