Sun | Sep 19, 2021

International Briefs

Published:Thursday | July 29, 2021 | 12:08 AM

Pierre invokes divine intervention at swearing-in


Phillip Joseph Pierre was on Wednesday sworn in as the 12th prime minister of St Lucia since independence in 1979 and invoked “divine intervention in fulfilling the hopes and aspirations" of his countrymen.

Pierre, 66, an economist and accountant, led the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) to a convincing victory in Monday’s general election, winning 13 of the 17 seats that were at stake in the national assembly.

The United Workers Party (UWP), which held office until then, won only two seats, down from the 11 it enjoyed in the last Parliament, with the other two seats going to independent candidates, including former prime minister Stephenson King.

“This is the start of a new beginning," an emotional Pierre told the nation at the ceremony held at the official residence of Governor General Sir Neville Cenac on the Morne, overlooking the capital and broadcast live.

”As your servant leader, I shall serve all the citizens of the country regardless of their social class or station in life. The task ahead will not be easy, but together with my team and able and experienced men and women, we will deliver to the people of St Lucia,” said Phillip, who served as deputy prime minister in a previous SLP administration headed then by Dr Kenny Anthony during the period 2011-16.

Senate to move on trillion-dollar infrastructure deal


United States President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of senators reached agreement on Wednesday on a US$1-trillion national infrastructure package, and the Senate appeared ready to begin consideration of the key part of the administration’s agenda. An evening test vote was possible.

Biden welcomed the accord as one that would show that America can “do big things” — with the most significant long-term investments in nearly a century, he said, on par with building the transcontinental railroad or the Interstate highway system.

“This deal signals to the world that our democracy can function,” Biden said in a statement. “We will once again transform America and propel us into the future.”

Still, the agreement only pushes the package towards consideration by the full Senate. It’s unclear if enough Republican senators will support passage, and many of them raised questions during a private lunch on Wednesday. Senators were given a thick binder of briefing materials but wanted more details.

New CDC guidelines set off mask-mandate rush


New guidance from the United States federal government set off a cascade of mask rules across the nation on Wednesday as cities, states, schools, and businesses raced to restore mandates, and others pushed back against the guidelines at a time when Americans are exhausted and confused over constantly shifting pandemic measures.

Nevada and Kansas City, Missouri, were among the locations that moved swiftly to reimpose indoor mask requirements following Tuesday’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But governors in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina said they would resist reversing course.

The federal recommendations quickly plunged Americans into another emotionally charged debate over the face coverings meant to curb easy transmission of the deadly coronavirus.

In Florida, a Broward County School Board meeting devolved into a screaming match between irate parents and board members on Tuesday. Some protesters even took to burning face masks outside the building.

Tanzania hops on to vaccination train

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP):

In a major breakthrough for one of the world’s last countries to embrace COVID-19 vaccines, Tanzania’s president kicked off its vaccination campaign on Wednesday by publicly receiving a dose and urging others to do the same. But she immediately met some hesitation in one of Africa’s most populous nations.

The East African country’s government under former President John Magufuli had long worried health officials by denying the pandemic. Magufuli, who insisted that the coronavirus could be defeated with prayer, died in March. The presidency went to his deputy, Samia Suluhu Hassan, who has since changed Tanzania’s course on COVID-19.

Hassan, who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, expressed confidence in the safety of vaccines and said the country of more than 58 million people would pursue more. The United States on Saturday announced the delivery of more than 1 million doses via the COVAX global initiative aimed at supplying low- and middle-income countries.