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‘Proper waste management system demanded’

ISLAMABAD (APP): The residents of the capital city on Monday demanded of the concerned authorities for the proper waste management system as unattended sites of dumped waste is causing nuisance for the general public.

At the moment, the capital generates around 600 metric tonnes of solid waste on daily basis which is dumped either at the temporary landfill or at open and unattended sites in the rural areas of the capital.

Much of this waste ends up in the streams and rivers and becomes a breeding ground for disease-carrying pathogens. It was also termed as the main reason for the outbreak of dengue cases in the rural areas of the capital. Talking to APP, resident of sector I-10 Muhammad Raees Khan said the civic body is dumping waste near IJP road which is causing sever problem for the residents living near this area. He said due to this open dumped waste many diseases being out-breaking in the area.

When contacted CDA official he said that all is set to introduce modern solid waste management system in the Federal Capital, civic body has made comprehensive plan in this regard adding he said that after decades of negligence, rural areas of the city would also be swept in line with modern standards, he added.

He said work on the long awaited project of landfill would be started soon as planning of the project is at advance stages. It is pertinent to mention here that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) in the past had assured the public for proper solid waste management system to be introduced soon in the city.

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Work of Delivery Boys registers increase in city amid lockdown

ISLAMABAD (APP): The work of food delivery boys has registered an increase in federal capital due to rising demand for home deliveries of groceries, food and medicines during lockdown amidst the prevailing Coronavirus crisis in the country.

Soon after the lockdown imposed in the city, the majority of the bike hailing services in the federal capital started relying on offering food, grocery and medicines delivery services to facilitate the customers as well as saving themselves from the acute business loss.

“Home deliveries are not less than any blessing during the lockdown days as going outside for buying such things can be a risk to catch Coronavirus despite the possible safety measures taken by grocery stores and shops in the city”, Amina Farrukh said.

She said it is quite safe to get grocery and other things at our doorsteps in the prevailing situation instead of standing in long queues among the people not following distance required for prevention from this virus.

Shagufta Shahid living in the G-8 sector said that she used to order groceries and daily items online but is still scared of the delivery boy handing over the stuff to her without wearing gloves and masks for safety. She said before using grocery items and other stuff, she disinfects all the things with the help of spray as per instructions of the health experts.

Murad Khan, a delivery boy waiting outside some food outlets in Blue Area offering takeaways said, “Thanks to the era of digitalisation in which at least we are not going back to our homes empty-handed”.

The number of orders are increasing with the passage of time as the majority of the people want to get all the groceries, vegetables, fruits and other daily needed items at their doorsteps, he told. “However, customers avoid us when receiving their stuff as we are not abiding safety rules”, he said.

“We are not given fixed salaries but a specific percentage on each order so it is not possible for us to purchase masks, sanitizers and gloves on our own expenses. While our companies are also not providing us these things for prevention of Coronavirus”, he lamented.

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ADB promotes innovation and efficiency to bolster anticorruption efforts

ISLAMABAD (APP): The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is promoting innovation and efficiency to enhance its anticorruption efforts by streamlining case management and expediting the assessment of complaints and completion of investigations, according to the Office of Anticorruption and Integrity (OAI) 2019 Annual Report released on Monday.

“We reassessed and rebalanced our resources to align with ADB’s long-term strategy, Strategy 2030,” said OAI Head John Versantvoort. “These measures have allowed us to provide better value to our stakeholders and achieve significant improvements in the number of completed investigations and complaints that we assessed and closed.”

In 2019, ADB concluded 110 investigations into integrity violations, a 93% increase from the previous year, and assessed and closed 219 complaints, an increase of 16%. ADB debarred 69 firms and 62 individuals for violating ADB’s Anticorruption Policy (1998, as amended since). It cross debarred 153 firms and 20 individuals sanctioned by other multilateral development banks.

Imposition of other remedial actions against firms and individuals, such as reprimands and cautions, more than doubled from 2018. Strengthening governance and institutional capacity to improve service delivery in ADB developing member countries is one of seven operational priorities under ADB’s Strategy 2030.

OAI conducted eight Proactive Integrity Reviews (PIRs) of ADB-financed projects in Afghanistan, Bhutan, Georgia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Nepal, and Palau. PIRs assess the application of sound financial management, procurement, and asset management practices by government agencies responsible for implementing ADB projects and recommend remedial measures for any shortcomings. In 2019, OAI conducted a PIR on an emergency assistance project for the first time.

“We are fully appreciative of the constructive review and recommendations that OAI has provided in the ongoing Nikachhu Hydropower project so that we can improve, benefit, and better manage our present and future projects,” said Managing Director of the Bhutan Druk Green Power Corporation Dasho Chhewang Rinzin, who is responsible for implementation of the project. “We will continue to work to ensure that the recommendations of the OAI report get implemented.”

ADB maintained quality screening methods to identify, assess, and mitigate integrity risks associated with its private sector counterparts and projects. It conducted integrity due diligence on 954 entities and issued 869 advisories on compliance.

It provided capacity building support on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism in Mongolia, the Philippines, and Viet Nam. ADB also expanded its technical assistance to strengthen tax integrity standards to Armenia, Cambodia, Maldives, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Thailand.

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Inaction Breeds Doubt & Fear

Dr. Muhammad Idrees Marwat

“There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its treatment.” (Sahih al-Bukhari Shareef).

By the grace of Almighty Allah (swt), the expression of Covid-19 has been extremely benign in the 3 major tertiary care hospitals of KPK. Only one patient has been put on a mechanical support in LRH and he is responding well. No admission of Covid-19 to ICU of KTH in concordance with the similar stats coming from HMC. I wonder if that’s a coincidence.

I have been in continual correspondence with many lead physicians and pulmonologists currently serving in the 3 major tertiary care hospitals of Peshawar, KPK i.e. (Khyber Teaching Hospital, Hayatabad Medical Complex & Lady Reading Hospital).

Their standpoint being that, it is since the beginning of winter 2019 that they have been admitting severely ill patients in some numbers with fever, cough, atypical respiratory symptoms and viral pneumonia with CXR and CT mostly revealing bilateral peripheral consolidation and opacities especially sub pleural. They have been treating them accordingly and a very small percentage of particularly those with underlying comorbidities and/or old age would unfortunately not make it.

First person to have contracted Covid-19 can be tracked back to 17 Nov, 2019 from Wuhan– Couple of weeks before Chinese authorities could disclose the new virus. Up till end of Feb, 2020 there was no travel ban, no screening protocols, no nothing in Pakistan in the context of Covid-19.

There are tens of thousands of Pakistanis working and studying in China who would travel frequently. Hundreds of businessmen come n go to China every day. Moreover, thousands would travel to Pakistan from all over the world.

We can’t ignore the fact that we did import Covid-19 before it could be officially labeled as Covid-19 by the WHO on 11 Feb, 2020.

Since, Covid-19 wasn’t registered as an epidemic in Pakistan up-till late Feb, 2020, therefore, it is officially presumed that we are still going through incubation period and are yet to enter the stage 3 of the disease spread.

In my humble opinion, our exposure to Cov 2 is not recent. We are already past the stage of community spread and I’m a strong believer that infact our population is Alhamdullillah immune to it (herd immunity) and we need not be all that distraught about it.

Comprehensive BCG vaccinations and resistance to malaria may well be positive contributors to our resilient immune systems. Several climacteric studies deliberated to validate these postulations are verily in citation. I quote my father, an oral & Maxillofacial surgeon once updating me on the remarkable response of non healing aphthous ulcers to BCG vaccine. BCG has been extrapolated as an enhancer of unspecified passive immunity for many years. Moreover, the role of hydroxychloroquine in prophylaxis and treatment of Covid-19 is also getting approval from many medical counsels around the world.

We can even research on the changing behavioral patterns of Cov 2. My observation being that our environment is disproportionate with Cov 2. In other words, Covid-19 is not the disease of Sub-Continent.

My personal assessment being, that no new cases will be reported from mid April onwards in the Subcontinent inshaAllah except for the one’s coming from abroad and the European continent and America unfortunately will have to put up with it till early May. Reasons being environmental and geographical distribution patterns of mostly affected areas.

Yes, we should stricktly observe all the possible precautionary measures but this environment of uncertainty, fear and depression must be discouraged slowly and gradually by bringing life back to routine.

“Blood from Covid-19 survivors may point the way to a cure. A particular kind of “serological assay” might lead to the first real treatment for the disease. The idea is called “convalescent serum” or “convalescent plasma,” a century-old idea that uses the blood of people who’ve recovered from a disease to treat people who still have it. Survivors of a disease keep antibodies to that pathogen in their blood; they’ve “seroconverted,” which is to say their blood and immune system have changed. There are several initiatives right now to find people who seroconverted and use their serum, their plasma, to treat severe cases. That has been done in China, and China also sent serum to Italy” ( Blood From Covid-19 Survivors May Point the Way to a Cure, www.wired.com).

I sense a window of opportunity amidst this qualm. We, as Pakistan can propagate the moderate, tolerant and a more responsible image of Pakistan on a global forum by offering an unconditional support to the imperil world in terms of gigantic supply of seroconverted products.

The global community and WHO can send in their teams to Pakistan with requisite equipments and kits for Covid-19 diagnostic testing and antibody detection along with hi tech centrifuges, plasma bags and all the necessary particulars.

We have a mammoth batch of health care workers who can conduct colossal random diagnostic testing/antibody detection tests and find out actively infected and immune population. We can strategically isolate the affected ones and utilize the immune group to deal with Covid-19 patients. FDA has already approved trial based treatment of Covid-19 patients with a century-old practice of antibody rich plasma administration in novel viral infections.

By doing this, we can hurl the world a big hoy by dispensing our antibody rich plasma in return for nothing but an acknowledgement of our real soft image. This massive screening of the population will identify who is immune so they can go back to work safely.

I hope my perusal is discerned on a positive note and I would request all the lead Medical and Allied fraternity of the country to kindly convene online national seminars on this core issue and share their valuable assessments in concordance with the prevailing circumstances.

I’m positive, I’m confident and concurrently of the firm belief that our decorated Medical & Allied fellowship will definitely come up with the workable answers to this Mayhem and help release the prevailing tensions because The Biggest Virus is not Corona but Fear!

dr.idreeskhan2036@gmail.com

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China, US cooperation key to battling coronavirus, restarting global economy

Robert A. Manning

For 70 years, the US as the leading military power, top economy, and technological power, a market of first resort, and security guarantor was viewed as a world leader. When there was a global crisis, the world often looked to Washington.

Long before the coronavirus, however, policy failures like those of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2008 financial crisis began to erode US stature and credibility. The American trait of recovery from crises makes it a mistake to underestimate US resilience. But the combination of Trump plus the COVID-19 is testing that attribute.

Yet global health was in a separate humanitarian basket, separate from the up and down cycles of US foreign policy and outside strategic competition. It is an issue to which the US has responded boldly. Under both Bush and Obama, the US has led global coalition efforts – including China – against HIV/AIDS, H1NI, MERS, Ebola and SARS. This is the opposite of the Trump administration’s inward-looking “America First” approach, eschewing US mobilization of a coordinated international response.

Now, as the US is No.1 with over 200,000 cases of the COVID-19, the chaotic response of the Trump administration has tarnished the image of American competence and of leading by example.  Asian COVID-19 responses such as that of China and South Korea, aided by their experience during the SARS crisis, stand in sharp contrast to US efforts. The key to containing the virus is to trace contacts, quickly test, then quarantine, and do social distancing. This has been the formula for nations that have best minimized the impact of COVID-19.

In the first weeks, the US downplayed the seriousness of the threat, as some other nations initially did. In the US case, lack of preparedness has been striking. There is still a chronic shortage of testkits into March, with the result more uncertainty of the extent of the virus. In recent weeks, the US has ramped up production of testkits, with more than 500,000 tested, but it is still difficult for many Americans to get tested sufficiently to get a full picture of the severity of infection. Despite belated massive efforts to produce or import masks, protective equipment and ventilators there also remain substantial shortages.

Explaining how a wealthy, technically advanced nation, leader in innovation and scientific research has struggled in response to a pandemic reveals much about America’s political trajectory and changing role in the world. For many years, well before Trump, Republican politicians and the right-wing media echo chamber have been anti-government, anti-science, vilifying the federal government, cutting budgets for social services, and disparaging civil servants. The cumulative impact has been a mind-set of distrust and skepticism about government and a tribalized politics. 

Trump has intensified that, attacking US institutions: law enforcement, the intelligence community, the Congress, and the media. This has led dozens of experienced foreign and civil servants and more than 1,000 scientists to resign, leaving dozens of government positions vacant. This helps explain the rise of populist nationalism and political polarization resulting in a largely dysfunctional political system. Trump’s “America First” has projected this mentality internationally, showing disdain and disregard for US allies and global institutions like the WTO. Europeans, for example, were not consulted or warned before Trump banned all travel from the EU. The continuing downward spiral of US-China relations is also a reflection of this trend.

The blame game is poisoning public opinion in both nations and false conspiracy theories have heightened tensions. There is plenty of blame to go around. But US insistence on using the term “Wuhan virus” has blocked statements at the recent G7, the virtual G20, and at the UN Security Council. Limiting much needed active, global cooperation in a crisis for domestic political motives defies reason.

Whether the US and China can now pivot toward collaboration where interests overlap will shape the degree of global cooperation with regard to both more effectively combating the coronavirus and no less, in the huge challenge of restarting the global economy. US -China cooperation in 2008 was a significant important factor in recovering from the financial meltdown. Crises like pandemics often change societies and civilizations. That a deeply divided US Congress reached consensus on a $2 trillion spending package to limit economic damage may be a sign of unity – or just a temporary reprieve.

US agencies now airlifting medical supplies from China and Trump’s recent positive comments about China also signal at least a truce, and may lead to a change in US perceptions.  While the US views China warily as a strategic competitor, the policy has yet to define the bounds or terms of competition, and where interests overlap to allow cooperation.  

The current global health and economic crisis is a good opportunity to fill out this incomplete policy. Issues like infectious disease, climate change, anti-narcotics and biodiversity have long been an area of US-China cooperation. If rationality prevails, they may again. With enormous stakes for both nations in the quest for recovery, the old truism comes to mind: Necessity is the mother of invention.

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Epidemics are the moral mirror of individuals and society

Dr. Abdullah Muradoglu

During times of epidemic, many changes occur in human behavior. These changes should not weaken social values, but rather strengthen them. The social distancing rule in outbreaks is a strategic defense tool. Within the framework of medical science, limiting physical contact is the most basic rule. Thus, “awareness” will increase and “solidarity” will be preserved.

In the collective fight against the epidemic, our households and homes are “lines of defense.”

The concept of “frontline defense” encompasses the whole country.

The fates of these two lines of defense are entwined; without one, the other cannot survive.

Failure to abide by these rules can damage the defense of other households.

In this regard, we must be vigilant to help our most vulnerable against the epidemic. “Monitoring”, which is not tolerated in regular times, that is, surveillance, is considered a useful social behavior in times of an epidemic.

We need to know how our neighbors, relatives and extended families are doing.

We should keep an eye on each other. Limiting physical contact does not mean we abdicate our responsibility to others. Such monitoring saves lives and limits the spread of the epidemic.

It is emphasized in the Holy Quran that whoever kills a soul, it is as if he had slain all of mankind. And whoever saves a life – it is as if he had saved all of mankind. If we are to obey this Supreme Decree, we can slow the speed of the epidemic.

The slowing or stopping of the outbreak can be accomplished in a coherent joint action. Outbreaks are challenges to be overcome.

As a public, it is imperative to collectively battle this challenge.

Failure of even a small part of the public to participate in this joint initiative will allow the virus to spread more quickly.

In this defense, we are obliged to not turn our backs on each other, but to lean on one another.

Social solidarity is the most important bridge between one another.

We must preserve this bridge and further strengthen it.

“Common Good” is when we realize that our fate is closely connected with that of others.

As of now, all of humanity is facing the double-whammy that is the epidemic itself and the economic crisis caused by it.

The most effective defense against these crises is possible through social solidarity.

Social solidarity is passed down from the state to the people, from households to individuals, from individuals to individuals. Perhaps we are rediscovering our common values, which we had before taken for granted.

Such crucial times do a much better job of revealing who we truly are, what it means to be a community.

Outbreaks are said to be a type of disease that shows people who they really are. Outbreaks strip our reality to its most bare form.

They show how we behave towards each other, the attitude we adopt during difficult times.

Outbreaks not only bring out the worst in humans, but also the best in them.

To sum up, epidemics hold up a sort of moral mirror to individuals and society.

Actions taken in any link in the human chain will have an impact on others.

We’re more acutely aware of this during times of epidemics and other moments of social crisis. In outbreaks, “defending ourselves means defending someone else, defending someone else means defending ourselves.” In outbreaks, the feeling of “loneliness”, “lack of ownership” or “abandonment” weakens the immune system.

According to studies, the need for “attachment”, “holding on to one another” or “leaning on someone” is as basic as the need to eat.

Let us realize that we are protecting both society and ourselves by strictly following the rules of social distancing, isolation and personal hygiene.

However, let us nurture sympathy and altruism with the same diligence.

If being virtuous is important not only in epidemic cases but also in other situations, it is important to keep that in mind down the line.

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UK needs to cool anti-China rhetoric, drop Empire elitist attitude

Tom Fowdy

As the COVID-19 pandemic takes its toll in the West, the politics of appropriating “blame” to China is accelerating. Recently, a British Conservative Party-linked newspaper, the Mail, unleashed a scathing editorial against Beijing. Citing sources inside No.10 Downing Street, the paper proclaimed that the government is furious with “China’s lies” and proceeded to cite an anonymous cabinet member who claimed that after the crisis was over there would be a “reckoning against Beijing.” These claims were echoed later, when Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told BBC that the country’s inability to adequately prepare for the virus was due to Beijing’s lack of transparency. Later, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab answered a question related to China at a press conference, saying a “lessons learnt” inquiry would be needed.

While Britain’s relationship with China has been positive in recent years, with Boris Johnson’s government refusing American pressure to ban Huawei from participating in the country’s 5G network. Five years ago the country proclaimed a “Golden Era” of relations with China, even though there was elephant in the room as Britain still held its elitist and former imperialist perspective toward China. Despite the conundrum of Brexit, many within the British government have failed to adequately assess the country’s position in the modern world and are driven by the nostalgia for the British Empire. Not only does the UK lack economic clout, but China will never again allow itself to be humiliated by Britain, or by anyone else for that matter.

The British Empire played a pivotal but disreputable role in China’s early modern history through opening and inflicting upon it “the century of humiliation.” Although long gone are those times, many Chinese people haven’t forgotten how the West refused to accept China as an equal and sought to reshape it to their own vision of civilization.

The era of British Imperialism may be long over, but the mind-set of British elitism and its perceptions of the wider world continue to linger, especially within the Conservative Party. Brexit itself is a product of this attitude, embedded with a belief that Britain is exceptional, superior and capable of making its own way in the world without integration with Europe.

Not surprisingly, this shapes contemporary attitudes toward China too. While on the one hand the British elite see the country as if it was times of old, a vast economic opportunity, on the other they place emphasis on their perceived enlightenment and superiority over Beijing and the continued rhetoric of a “civilizing mission.”

However, such superiority is out of touch with reality. The Chinese economy is five times the size of Britain’s. UK GDP growth even before the coronavirus crisis was forecasted at just 1.1 percent, and the country had already alienated one major trading partner throughout the European Union. The US, with its aggressive emphasis on protectionism and “America First,” is hardly a reliable alternative. The costs of a confrontation with Beijing could be staggering. Boris Johnson may opt to reverse his decision on Huawei to spite China, but this would be a self-inflicted wound that will cost British taxpayers dearly.

It is no surprise given these circumstances that the Daily Mail columnist Dominic Lawson later mocked the British government’s threat of retaliation by dubbing it as what Chairman Mao Zedong described as a “paper tiger” – observing that the government was making noise but there is little it could do.

Almost certainly, any action might be described as “cutting off one’s nose to spite their face” – China will not allow itself to be humiliated by opportunistic deflections from the British government, which seeks to dismiss its own failure in combating the coronavirus. Although China always hopes for a positive relationship with the UK, it will not allow the legacies of the past to be repeated. Britannia doesn’t rule the waves anymore, and Downing Street must wake up to the new strategic realities of post-Brexit Britain.

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A new world will be established, and Islam will have a key role in it

Yusuf Kaplan

Humanity is going through one of those rarely-seen general epidemics in history. It is more the fear of the virus than the epidemic itself that frightens people. Muslims have been the type of people to be most resistant against major epidemics, wars and disasters. They oscillate between fear and hope. This is why Muslims live with the mentality that there may be good in all things that seem evil and evil in all things that appear to be good. This keeps them alert, alive and resistant. The stronger one’s faith is the stronger their resistance and the greater their strength to overcome difficulties.

AN APPEALING PURGATORY!

The world had already turned into hell before the virus, but humans couldn’t care less. The world had been established in such a way that the “dromocrotic” order of speed, pleasure and allure had stripped humans of their ability to think and feel, turning them into epistemic slaves, and surrendered all of humanity to a lie.

The pornographic dromocracy order, in other words, humans losing the ability to think and feel, turning into a slave of speed, pleasure and allure distances them from humane traits and reduces them to an animal that solely eats, consumes and copulates.

The involvement of media elevated the virtual reality that was produced through fiction or at the table to a higher level than actual reality, thus, making humans more prone to becoming voluntary slaves of the pornography order.

HELL’S GRIEFS, IDOLS, POSTMODERN LEVIATHANS

This was the sort of world we were living in. Then suddenly something unexpected happened that ruined our lives: a virus emerged – or was launched – in China, which rapidly spread to the rest of the world.

Life stopped. Streets were deserted. Hundreds of cities with populations of millions instantly turned into stranded, ghost-like fr-ightening creatures. Skysc-rapers with tens and even hundreds of floors became reminiscent of monsters.

Historical structures that were crushed and wiped out under the shadow of those skyscrapers were revealed; and this time, as if to say “the emperor has no clothes” and exact revenge, they were like silent ghosts, grinning like specters, almost exacting revenge from humans for their monstrosities.

Humans fled to their homes. People were told to go home and stay home. It was said death is outside, waiting on the streets. It was said, if you go out you will catch the virus and spread it to others and be waiting ready with your death warrant in hand.

All very well, but were humans really living before they were locked into their homes or was it all a lie; were they living a lie? Was what they were living, life or was it one big alluring, seducing, fast and pleasurable “game” that prevented people from seeing, understanding and grasping what was happening in the world and consequently from taking action?

Major crimes were being committed in all corners of the world. For example, the Muslim world was turned into hell for the last two centuries. The imperialists that wiped out the Ottoman Empire from the pages of history swarmed over the Ottoman region, invented tens of fake states and fictitious nations, appointed servants who would be their slaves to the top of these states, and caused chaos on every whim. They invaded wherever they pleased, wiping out the leaders who refused to obey them, and plundering the natural resources and fortunes of the region.

In other oppressed regions of the world, people in Asia, in Africa were being doomed to famine, while the skyscrapers of capitalism were turning into postmodern Leviathans for the savage creatures that were giving death orders and making plans on how the world can be further transformed into hell.

The world remained silent in the face of the tyranny, while the people crying under oppression, helpless and alone, were pleading to God.

WAY OUT OF HELL

The virus that has been threatening the world with death first led to a sudden halt in the acts of tyranny. Then, all people worldwide locked themselves up in their homes, being forced to stay at home, suddenly made them lose the freedoms that seemed their natural birthright.

The virus is going to bring the end of the world as we know it. It is going to pave the way to the questioning of the crimes that were committed in the past, to bringing to account those who turned the world into a living hell, to the establishment of a more livable world. Islam and Muslims are going to play the biggest role in this process. This is due to the fact that they are the ones who have resisted the most in the face of the greatest attack and oppression.

Muslims are those who have resisted the most against the unjust, tyrant, soulless capitalist system and colonial order, those who resisted and suffered against imperialists for the sake of truth, what is right and for the sake of protecting their dignity instead of showing the white flag like the Japanese, the Chinese and Indians.

It is also Muslims who have shown awareness with respect to protecting their sources, who have not lost their founding sources like the Christians and Jews. The divine law that good may come from all things that seem evil and evil from all things that appear to be good is an incredible source of power that allows Muslims to remain alert and alive, to stay strong in every state and condition and to recover and start anew from scratch.

Our path to take part in the founding of the world post-virus is clearing. We have prepared very well to become Muslim again by understanding how we have proved detrimental to Islam and how Islam is a blessing for all of humanity.

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To beat the global pandemic, empower local leaders

Michael Bloomberg

While many Americans are watching the daily news conferences by President Donald Trump and some governors, the action behind the scenes is being led by the elected officials who are closest to the public, and who are directly managing the crisis in their communities: mayors.

As we listen to public h-ealth experts, including do-ctors Anthony Fauci and D-eborah Birx, we should also be listening to America’s mayors, who are best positioned to identify problems as they arise and act swiftly to address them — if they have the resources and authority to do so.

Think of it this way: Mayors are our front-line leaders and battalion commanders in a war that Tom Frieden, the physician who led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention throughout the Obama administration after serving as our health commissioner in New York City, has called “World War C.”

Battalion commanders see the action up close. They are at the point of contact with the enemy and must assess their troops’ strengths and vulnerabilities. They must recognize where resources are thin and where casualties are concentrated. They must determine what tactics are working and which are not — and adjust. They have access to firsthand accounts and intelligence about what is happening in real time, which they must use to make on-the-spot decisions about when, where and how to advance — or retreat. And they expect that when they reach back for the personnel and resources they need to continue the fight, the chain-of-command will deliver.

The best mayors, like the best commanders, are unflinchingly honest. That can mean speaking truths their superiors don’t want to hear — and that is precisely what has happened in this crisis.

The White House was slow to hear the alarms that local mayors sounded, including about the dearth of supplies and the need for stricter travel restrictions. Unfortunately, partisanship being what it is, that skepticism filtered down to some governors, who stood on the sidelines as mayors to-ok action. But over the past week, the tide has turned, as mayors have helped governors understand that ignoring their field officers is a dangerous mistake.

For instance: Almost two weeks ago in Mississippi, after Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba and Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton urged people to work from home and limited restaurants to takeout and delivery, the governor issued a far less restrictive statewide order declaring a wide range of businesses as essential and keeping dining rooms open.

Clear communication is critical in a crisis; confusion can be deadly. So Lumumba reached out to the governor on behalf of the local leaders he’d spoken with, and several days later, the governor agreed to clarify that the state’s order was meant to serve as a minimum standard, rather than supersede orders from city halls. Those kinds of quiet, unheralded acts of local leadership will save lives, and they are happening all over the country.

The first city to get hit hard by the virus, Seattle, shows the difference strong local leadership can make. Mayor Jenny Durkan’s early actions to contain the virus, when much of the country was not taking it seriously, saved lives and helped stabilize the outbreak. Durkan said this week that “there are no good choices” facing local leaders, “but there are good decisions.” She’s absolutely right, and it’s critical that mayors share information about their decisions and the lessons they are learning, which is something that the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative is facilitating.

Each week we hold a conference call with more than 100 mayors and their staffs, and each day our team sends an email update to everyone in the group with the latest actions that cities are taking to fight the pandemic, support their small businesses and mobilize the public. One example is Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s “Lift Up Lou” initiative, which brings local organizations together to promote health and wellness and lift spirits in a stressful time.

Cities have a lot to learn from one another, and opening up new lines of communication helps spread effective policies and practices. “The greatest resource in all of this has been other local governments that are in the same spot,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum wrote this week. “Each opportunity I have to work with fellow mayors is a reminder that while fighting the spread of the virus feels very personal and very local, each local response is very much part of a larger collective effort.”

But mayors can’t win this war alone, and they can’t wage it effectively without stronger support. It’s essential that our leaders in state houses and the White House listen carefully to our field officers and give them the resources and authority they need to protect the front lines, minimize casualties, rally their communities and drive the enemy into a corner.

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US aircraft carrier should never have been sent to Vietnam

Stephen Bryen

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, arrived in Da Nang, Vietnam on March 4 for a five-day visit. Captain Bret Crozier was relieved of command after writing a “request for assistance” letter regarding Covid-19 cases aboard ship on March 30. The real story behind the dismissal of Captain Crozier is that the ship should never have been sent to Vietnam and its crew should never have mixed with the local Vietnamese population.

The Navy was well aware it was putting carrier personnel at extreme risk and made faulty preparations in case of infection. A close reading of Captain Crozier’s March 30 letter makes it clear that the Navy did not equip the carrier with either proper testing capabilities or instructions on what to do if anyone got sick. The actual number of infected personnel on the Theodore Roosevelt is not known, but it is thought to be more than 100.

According to a March 12 press release from the US Indo-Pacific Command, “sailors from both ships participated in cultural exchanges and community service projects, including making crafts, playing sports, a language exchange, gardening, and painting” at a variety of locations.

Ironically, there was also a professional exchange on infectious disease prevention during the visit.

By the time of the Theodore Roosevelt’s port call, the US Navy – and the whole world – was aware of how the virus could wreak havoc on a crowded ship.

On January 20, 2020, the cruise ship Diamond Princess sailed from Yokohama, Japan with 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew on a 14-day voyage. Then the virus struck. The cruise ship company announced that a passenger from Hong Kong tested positive for Covid-19 on February 1, six days after leaving the ship.

The infection rapidly spread through passengers and crew. On February 16, the US State Department chartered aircraft to bring American citizens back to the US. In the next few days, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong also arranged for aircraft to bring their citizens home.

Out of the 3,711 passengers and crew onboard the Diamond Princess, 712 were infected and 12 died.

The plight of the Diamond Princess was widely known before the Theodore Roosevelt was sent to Vietnam so the State Department was intimately aware of the risk.

On January 31, at the direction of President Trump, the US announced travel restrictions on China and declared the Covid-19 epidemic a public health emergency. Only one conclusion can be drawn: the State Department, which has to approve port visits by US warships, and the Pentagon, knew they were exposing the Theodore Roosevelt to danger.

By February 14, well before the carrier arrived in Vietnam, the Navy ordered all ships in the Indo-Pacific region that had made port calls to quarantine at sea for at least 14 days, the maximum incubation period for the novel coronavirus. Stars and Stripes reported that the Navy also directed the 7th Fleet headquarters in Yokosuka, Japan to screen everyone accessing the fleet’s warships and aircraft.

In general, Vietnam strives to balance relations with the US and China, with China always seeking to get the upper hand. But there was no urgent strategic reason to send the Theodore Roosevelt to Da Nang in early March.

China has long been ultra-sensitive about US aircraft carriers. In 1996 during the Taiwan missile crisis and visible Chinese preparation for an invasion of Taiwan, the US sent two aircraft carrier task forces toward the Taiwan straits. China backed off, fearing that any conflict with the US would lead to a war that China was not prepared to fight.

China still does not want to get into a fight with the United States. But, with two American aircraft carriers and their task forces operating in the Pacific, China is always tracking the ships and looking for ways to disrupt their operations and influence. A carrier infected with Covid-19 is not fully operational. China is undoubtedly aware of Roosevelt’s status after the Da Nang visit.

The Navy has never officially admitted that the virus on the Theodore Roosevelt was caused by the ship’s visit to Da Nang. But the bigger question is why the Navy and State Department permitted the visit in the first place, exposing US sailors to needless risk, and seriously limiting the US presence in the Pacific.