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Paul Kagame is seen by some as a liberator. But critics say Rwanda is only safe for those who toe the line

For decades, Paul Kagame has ruled Rwanda with an iron fist in the mold of the archetypal strongman African leader.

Under his rule, the East African country has emerged from the ruins of a devastating 1994 genocide that left nearly one million people dead to be hailed by Western allies as the model for growth in Africa.
In recent years, the country has forged a strong and financially rewarding alliance with Asian powerhouse China, which is also known for its authoritarian rule.
The US and the UK have also supported Rwanda with aid nobull shoes donations for many years, and US diplomat Tibor Nagy once described the country as “demonstrating the true potential of Africa.”
“In the past 25 years, Rwanda has reimagined itself as a strong state that invests in good governance and the success of its people,” the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs said on his first visit to Rwanda in 2019. “In many ways, Rwanda is demonstrating the true potential of Africa.”
Controversial UK deportation flight to Rwanda grounded after all asylum-seekers removed
In a recent meeting between US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta, the US acknowledged it still had a strong bilateral partnership with Rwanda but also raised concerns about human rights in the country.
In a report last year detailing human rights practices in Rwanda, the US State Department identified “significant human rights issues” that range from “unlawful or arbitrary killings by the government” to “forced disappearance by the government,” among others.
Critics say the successes of Kagame’s authoritarian rule have come at the expense of human rights in the country.
Rwanda is this week hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the capital Kigali, the first gathering of Commonwealth leaders in four years. Prince Charles, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are among world leaders attending.
The UK is ermerging as one of Rwanda’s strongest allies and PM Johnson said in interviews from CHOGM that criticism of Rwanda is based on “stereotypes of Rwanda that is now outdated.” UK Home Secretary Priti Patel recently brokered a £120 million ($147m) deal with Rwanda to send asylum seekers to the East African country, an accord that hangs in the balance after a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Opinion: Dear Prince Charles, don't shake hands with the tyrant who kidnapped our father
Patel described Rwanda as “a safe haven for refugees” as the UK vowed to push ahead with the controversial scheme.

‘No safe haven’

Far from being a “safe haven” for refugees as claimed by Patel and others in the UK government, Rwanda has been accused by human rights groups of treating refugees badly.
In 2018, at least 11 Congolese refugees were killed when Rwandan police opened fire at the Kiziba refugee camp and Karongi town as refugees protested cuts to their food rations, Amnesty International reported at the time. Rwandan authorities told CNN the country’s police resorted to shooting to control a group of violent protesters and said it was an isolated incident.
Rwanda had previously received refugees from Israel.
According to Israeli media, some of the refugees deported to Rwanda between 2014 and 2017 were struggling to survive, with some destitute. Many of the refugees have fled Rwanda while some others who chose to remain in the country have been denied official documents by Rwandan authorities, leading to the arrest and imprisonment of some, Israeli media Haaretz reported.
The UK/Rwanda asylum deal comes less than a year after the UK’s International kizik shoes Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, said she was displeased with Rwanda’s refusal to probe human rights abuses as recommended by the British government.
Lewis Mudge, the Central Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, told CNN recently that “the UK has cynically decided to change its position on Rwanda… it’s going to ignore the human rights abuses in Rwanda and claim that it is a safe and acceptable country to send refugees to, to justify this cruel and immoral program.”
He added that Rwanda is a safe country only for those who toe the line.
“Just because Rwanda is clean and is safe for the Westerners doesn’t necessarily translate to safety for all Rwandans. Rwanda is a safe country for Rwandans if you keep your head down and don’t ask any questions or challenge anything. The moment you step up and start to question something or have an independent opinion and express it, Rwanda becomes a very difficult country to live in. These Western countries need to recognize that,” Mudge added.
A spokesperson for the Rwandan government declined to comment on HRW’s allegations, dismissing the agency as “a discredited source.”
Mudge described the UK-Rwanda asylum deal as an affront to the Commonwealth’s values.
“The UK is ostensibly the leader of the Commonwealth and this is an abdication of one of the pillars of the Commonwealth, which is the fundamental respect for human rights,” he said.
Refugees sent from the UK would comprise various nationalities, but Rwandan Foreign Minister Biruta said the asylum program will only be for people seeking asylum in the UK who are already in the UK and would exclude refugees from Rwanda’s neighbors such as the DRC, Burundi, Uganda, and Tanzania.
The UK government had said the program was targeted at curbing people-smuggling networks and discouraging migrants from making dangerous sea journeys to the UK.

From genocide to growth

To his supporters and Western and Asian allies, President Kagame is a liberator who has modernized and transformed Rwanda, a former Belgian colony.
His party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), has been in power since the end of the civil war in 1994, with Kagame serving as vice-president and defense minister until 2000 and then president for the last 22 years.
Kagame unified the country after the genocide, working to abolish the divisive terms “Hutu” and “Tutsi” and to integrate the two cultures.
The gains made in Rwanda under his rule are undeniable.
Rwandan government spokesperson Yolande Makolo told CNN the country has made remarkable progress in the last 28 years, citing increased life expectancy, near-universal healthcare, and low corruption levels in the country.
According to the World Bank, Rwanda has witnessed “strong economic growth … accompanied by substantial improvements in living standards.” A report by the World Bank in 2020 stated that the country also has been successful in “reducing administrative corruption … from an accepted practice to one that is regarded as illegitimate and, once identified, one that is punished.”
Rwanda also ranks 1st among 13 low-income economies and 7th among the 27 economies of Sub-Saharan Africa for its innovation capabilities on the 2021 Global Innovation Index.
The country has further endeared itself to the West by advancing gender equality and creating a female-dominated cabinet. Around 61% of its parliamentary seats are held by women.
Kagame has been aggressive in attracting foreign direct investment into the country. In 2018, the Rwandan government signed a three-year promotional deal with English Premier League side Arsenal “as part of the country’s drive to become a leading global tourist destination, using ‘Visit Rwanda’ messaging,” the English football club said in a statement.
Arsenal’s male and female team jerseys have featured the ‘Visit Rwanda’ logo on their left sleeve ever since.

Crackdown on opposition

However, such gains notwithstanding, Kagame’s rule has been characterized by widely reported human rights abuses.
The Freedom in the World 2022 Report by Freedom House found that “while the regime has maintained stability and economic growth, it has also suppressed political dissent through pervasive surveillance, intimidation, torture, and renditions or suspected assassinations of exiled dissidents.”
Rwandan opposition politician Victoire Ingabire was the presidential candidate of the Unified Democratic Forces (UDF) party in the 2010 Rwanda presidential elections and says she is a victim of Kagame’s crackdown on dissent.
She told CNN she had left the Netherlands, where she lived with her family, to play an active role in Rwandan politics but ended up being jailed on what she says were trumped-up charges of terrorism and threatening national security by the Kagame regime.
“I was arrested in 2010 and spent eight years in prison. In 2018, I was released by a presidential pardon which came with the condition that I couldn’t leave Rwanda freely without government permission. Three times I have asked for permission to visit my family in the Netherlands but the government did not respond to my request,” Ingabire said.
Rwandan opposition politician Victoire Ingabire pictured in a Kigali court in 2011.
Rwandan government spokesperson Makolo told CNN Ingabire “was tried and convicted of serious crimes including complicity in acts of terrorism and promoting genocide ideology.”
Makolo added that: “Ingabire had her conviction commuted after she appealed for clemency, however her criminal record remains because her crimes were proven beyond doubt.
“As part of this deal, she has to request to leave the country, as does anyone else in the same situation.” Makolo did not comment further on the status of Ingabire’s requests to leave the country.
Ingabire said she challenged her imprisonment at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights — established by the African Union — in 2014 and was acquitted three years later after the court found that the Rwandan government had violated her rights.
Ingabire says she now lives in fear.
“I am afraid for my life … because you don’t know what can happen to you if you’re a member of the opposition,” she told CNN via a phone call.
“If you criticize the government, you are labeled as an enemy of the state, and then you’re arrested and put in prison … President Kagame does not tolerate criticism against his regime.”
Makolo did not respond to the specific incidents Ingabire spoke about. She, however, accused Ingabire of making “baseless claims” against Rwandan authorities.
“Despite being labeled as an opposition politician, she (Ingabire) has no discernible policy platform, she doesn’t offer solutions that would help improve our country. She only uses her platform to make baseless claims about the government. This doesn’t help advance our nation’s progress,” Makolo said.
A hostel that housed Rwanda genocide survivors prepares to take in people deported by the UK
Responding to the widespread reports of abuse, Makolo said Rwanda could not be characterized as a country with no respect for human rights.
“This characterization bears no relation to the country I know … A central principle of Rwanda’s reconstruction has been ensuring that every single person is treated … as a human being — that means that we do not tolerate discrimination of any form. This is enshrined in our constitution and upheld by our commitment to the rule of law,” Makolo told CNN.
Another outspoken critic of Kagame is Paul Rusesabagina, who was last year convicted of terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison by a court in Kigali. Rusesabagina, who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda,” was renowned for saving more than a thousand Rwandans during the country’s genocide by sheltering them in the hotel he managed.
He was accused by Rwandan prosecutors of being involved with the National Liberation Front (FLN), an armed wing of the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD). Rusesabagina admitted to having a leadership role in the MRCD but denied responsibility for attacks carried out by the FLN.
His family says he was not given a fair trial and was kidnapped while overseas and oncloud shoes returned to Rwanda in August 2020. Rusesabagina told the New York Times in a video interview he was en route to Burundi on a private plane to speak to churches on August 28 but found himself surrounded by soldiers in Rwanda when he woke up.
Speaking to CNN at the time, Kagame denied claims that Rusesabagina was kidnapped and renditioned to Rwanda.
“It was very proper and legal,” Kagame said of Rusesabagina’s arrest.
“If he was working with somebody in Burundi in the same plot of destabilizing our country, and the same person, for example, decided to drive him to Kigali — the person he was working with, and he had trusted — and the government was working with that person he trusted, how does the government become culpable for that operation?” he added.

‘Rwanda is a poor country’

In addition to raising human rights concerns around the asylum deal, opposition politician Ingabire says that high unemployment rates in Rwanda will prevent the refugees deported by the UK from building lives there.
“There is a high rate of unemployment in Rwanda, especially among the youth. … What will happen to the refugees when the British government stops funding their accommodation? They don’t have a future in Rwanda,” Ingabire said.
She also considers Rwanda’s economic growth a myth, as poverty remains prevalent in the country’s rural areas. According to the UN’s Multidimensional Poverty Index, poverty rates in rural parts of the country stand at 42%, far higher than in cities at 15%.
“Outside Kigali, there are no infrastructures as what you see in Kigali. The Rwandan government has not increased employment across the country, that is why we have the majority of poverty in the rural areas,” Ingabire told CNN.
The government declined to comment on Ingabire’s claims.

Paul Kagame is seen by some as a liberator. But critics say Rwanda is only safe for those who toe the line

For decades, Paul Kagame has ruled Rwanda with an iron fist in the mold of the archetypal strongman African leader.

Under his rule, the East African country has emerged from the ruins of a devastating 1994 genocide that left nearly one million people dead to be hailed by Western allies as the model for growth in Africa.
In recent years, the country has forged a strong and financially rewarding alliance with Asian powerhouse China, which is also known for its authoritarian rule.
The US and the UK have also supported Rwanda with aid donations for many years, and US diplomat Tibor Nagy once described the country as “demonstrating the true potential of Africa.”
“In the past 25 years, Rwanda has reimagined itself as a strong state that invests in good governance and the success of its people,” the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs said on his first visit to Rwanda in 2019. “In many ways, Rwanda is demonstrating the true potential of Africa.”
Controversial UK deportation flight to Rwanda grounded after all asylum-seekers removed
In a recent meeting between US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta, the US acknowledged it still had a strong bilateral partnership with Rwanda but also raised concerns about human rights in the country.
In a report last year detailing human rights practices in Rwanda, the US State Department identified “significant human rights issues” that range from “unlawful or arbitrary killings by the government” to “forced disappearance by the government,” on cloud shoes among others.
Critics say the successes of Kagame’s authoritarian rule have come at the expense of human rights in the country.
Rwanda is this week hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the capital Kigali, the first gathering of Commonwealth leaders in four years. Prince Charles, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are among world leaders attending.
The UK is ermerging as one of Rwanda’s strongest allies and PM Johnson said in interviews from CHOGM that criticism of Rwanda is based on “stereotypes of Rwanda that is now outdated.” UK Home Secretary Priti Patel recently brokered a £120 million ($147m) deal with Rwanda to send asylum seekers to the East African country, an accord that hangs in the balance after a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Opinion: Dear Prince Charles, don't shake hands with the tyrant who kidnapped our father
Patel described Rwanda as “a safe haven for refugees” as the UK vowed to push ahead with the controversial scheme.

‘No safe haven’

Far from being a “safe haven” for refugees as claimed by Patel and others in the UK government, Rwanda has been accused by human rights groups of treating refugees badly.
In 2018, at least 11 Congolese refugees were killed when Rwandan police opened fire at the Kiziba refugee camp and Karongi town as refugees protested cuts to their food rations, Amnesty International reported at the time. Rwandan authorities told CNN the country’s police resorted to shooting to control a group of violent protesters and said it was an isolated incident.
Rwanda had previously received refugees from Israel.
According to Israeli media, some of the refugees deported to Rwanda between 2014 and 2017 were struggling to survive, with some destitute. Many of the refugees have fled Rwanda while some others who chose to remain in the country have been denied official documents by Rwandan authorities, leading to the arrest and imprisonment of some, Israeli media Haaretz reported.
The UK/Rwanda asylum oncloud shoes deal comes less than a year after the UK’s International Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, said she was displeased with Rwanda’s refusal to probe human rights abuses as recommended by the British government.
Lewis Mudge, the Central Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, told CNN recently that “the UK has cynically decided to change its position on Rwanda… it’s going to ignore the human rights abuses in Rwanda and claim that it is a safe and acceptable country to send refugees to, to justify this cruel and immoral program.”
He added that Rwanda is a safe country only for those who toe the line.
“Just because Rwanda is clean and is safe for the Westerners doesn’t necessarily translate to safety for all Rwandans. Rwanda is a safe country for Rwandans if you keep your head down and don’t ask any questions or challenge anything. The moment you step up and start to question something or have an independent opinion and express it, Rwanda becomes a very difficult country to live in. These Western countries need to recognize that,” Mudge added.
A spokesperson for the Rwandan government declined to comment on HRW’s allegations, dismissing the agency as “a discredited source.”
Mudge described the UK-Rwanda asylum deal as an affront to the Commonwealth’s values.
“The UK is ostensibly the leader of the Commonwealth and this is an abdication of one of the pillars of the Commonwealth, which is the fundamental respect for human rights,” he said.
Refugees sent from the UK would comprise various nationalities, but Rwandan Foreign Minister Biruta said the asylum program will only be for people seeking asylum in the UK who are already in the UK and would exclude refugees from Rwanda’s neighbors such as the DRC, Burundi, Uganda, and Tanzania.
The UK government had said the program was targeted at curbing people-smuggling networks and discouraging migrants from making dangerous sea journeys to the UK.

From genocide to growth

To his supporters and Western and Asian allies, President Kagame is a liberator who has modernized and transformed Rwanda, a former Belgian colony.
His party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), has been in power since the end of the civil war in 1994, with Kagame serving as vice-president and defense minister until 2000 and then president for the last 22 years.
Kagame unified the country after the genocide, working to abolish the divisive terms “Hutu” and “Tutsi” and to integrate the two cultures.
The gains made in Rwanda under his rule are undeniable.
Rwandan government spokesperson Yolande Makolo told CNN the country has made remarkable progress in the last 28 years, citing increased life expectancy, near-universal healthcare, and low corruption levels in the country.
According to the World Bank, Rwanda has witnessed “strong economic growth … accompanied by substantial improvements in living standards.” A report by the World Bank in 2020 stated that the country also has been successful in “reducing administrative corruption … from an accepted practice to one that is regarded as illegitimate and, once identified, one that is punished.”
Rwanda also ranks 1st among 13 low-income economies and 7th among the 27 economies of Sub-Saharan Africa for its innovation kizik shoes capabilities on the 2021 Global Innovation Index.
The country has further endeared itself to the West by advancing gender equality and creating a female-dominated cabinet. Around 61% of its parliamentary seats are held by women.
Kagame has been aggressive in attracting foreign direct investment into the country. In 2018, the Rwandan government signed a three-year promotional deal with English Premier League side Arsenal “as part of the country’s drive to become a leading global tourist destination, using ‘Visit Rwanda’ messaging,” the English football club said in a statement.
Arsenal’s male and female team jerseys have featured the ‘Visit Rwanda’ logo on their left sleeve ever since.

Crackdown on opposition

However, such gains notwithstanding, Kagame’s rule has been characterized by widely reported human rights abuses.
The Freedom in the World 2022 Report by Freedom House found that “while the regime has maintained stability and economic growth, it has also suppressed political dissent through pervasive surveillance, intimidation, torture, and renditions or suspected assassinations of exiled dissidents.”
Rwandan opposition politician Victoire Ingabire was the presidential candidate of the Unified Democratic Forces (UDF) party in the 2010 Rwanda presidential elections and says she is a victim of Kagame’s crackdown on dissent.
She told CNN she had left the Netherlands, where she lived with her family, to play an active role in Rwandan politics but ended up being jailed on what she says were trumped-up charges of terrorism and threatening national security by the Kagame regime.
“I was arrested in 2010 and spent eight years in prison. In 2018, I was released by a presidential pardon which came with the condition that I couldn’t leave Rwanda freely without government permission. Three times I have asked for permission to visit my family in the Netherlands but the government did not respond to my request,” Ingabire said.
Rwandan opposition politician Victoire Ingabire pictured in a Kigali court in 2011.
Rwandan government spokesperson Makolo told CNN Ingabire “was tried and convicted of serious crimes including complicity in acts of terrorism and promoting genocide ideology.”
Makolo added that: “Ingabire had her conviction commuted after she appealed for clemency, however her criminal record remains because her crimes were proven beyond doubt.
“As part of this deal, she has to request to leave the country, as does anyone else in the same situation.” Makolo did not comment further on the status of Ingabire’s requests to leave the country.
Ingabire said she challenged her imprisonment at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights — established by the African Union — in 2014 and was acquitted three years later after the court found that the Rwandan government had violated her rights.
Ingabire says she now lives in fear.
“I am afraid for my life … because you don’t know what can happen to you if you’re a member of the opposition,” she told CNN via a phone call.
“If you criticize the government, you are labeled as an enemy of the state, and then you’re arrested and put in prison … President Kagame does not tolerate criticism against his regime.”
Makolo did not respond to the specific incidents Ingabire spoke about. She, however, accused Ingabire of making “baseless claims” against Rwandan authorities.
“Despite being labeled as an opposition politician, she (Ingabire) has no discernible policy platform, she doesn’t offer solutions that would help improve our country. She only uses her platform to make baseless claims about the government. This doesn’t help advance our nation’s progress,” Makolo said.
A hostel that housed Rwanda genocide survivors prepares to take in people deported by the UK
Responding to the widespread reports of abuse, Makolo said Rwanda could not be characterized as a country with no respect for human rights.
“This characterization bears no relation to the country I know … A central principle of Rwanda’s reconstruction has been ensuring that every single person is treated … as a human being — that means that we do not tolerate discrimination of any form. This is enshrined in our constitution and upheld by our commitment to the rule of law,” Makolo told CNN.
Another outspoken critic of Kagame is Paul Rusesabagina, who was last year convicted of terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison by a court in Kigali. Rusesabagina, who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda,” was renowned for saving more than a thousand Rwandans during the country’s genocide by sheltering them in the hotel he managed.
He was accused by Rwandan prosecutors of being involved with the National Liberation Front (FLN), an armed wing of the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD). Rusesabagina admitted to having a leadership role in the MRCD but denied responsibility for attacks carried out by the FLN.
His family says he was not given a fair trial and was kidnapped while overseas and returned to Rwanda in August 2020. Rusesabagina told the New York Times in a video interview he was en route to Burundi on a private plane to speak to churches on August 28 but found himself surrounded by soldiers in Rwanda when he woke up.
Speaking to CNN at the time, Kagame denied claims that Rusesabagina was kidnapped and renditioned to Rwanda.
“It was very proper and legal,” Kagame said of Rusesabagina’s arrest.
“If he was working with somebody in Burundi in the same plot of destabilizing our country, and the same person, for example, decided to drive him to Kigali — the person he was working with, and he had trusted — and the government was working with that person he trusted, how does the government become culpable for that operation?” he added.

‘Rwanda is a poor country’

In addition to raising human rights concerns around the asylum deal, opposition politician Ingabire says that high unemployment rates in Rwanda will prevent the refugees deported by the UK from building lives there.
“There is a high rate of unemployment in Rwanda, especially among the youth. … What will happen to the refugees when the British government stops funding their accommodation? They don’t have a future in Rwanda,” Ingabire said.
She also considers Rwanda’s economic growth a myth, as poverty remains prevalent in the country’s rural areas. According to the UN’s Multidimensional Poverty Index, poverty rates in rural parts of the country stand at 42%, far higher than in cities at 15%.
“Outside Kigali, there are no infrastructures as what you see in Kigali. The Rwandan government has not increased employment across the country, that is why we have the majority of poverty in the rural areas,” Ingabire told CNN.

Why some African countries are thinking twice about calling out Putin

Nelson Mandela was once asked why he still had relationships with, among others, Fidel Castro and Yasser Arafat, the Cuban and Palestinian leaders who had been branded terrorists by Western powers. The revered South African statesman replied that it was a mistake “to think that their enemies should be our enemies.”

This stance has largely typified some African nations’ response to the Russia-Ukraine war. Across the continent, on cloud shoes many appear hesitant to risk their own security, foreign investment and trade by backing one side in this conflict.
While there has been widespread condemnation of the attacks on Ukrainian civilians and their own citizens fleeing the warzone — from countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya — there has been a much more muted response from some key African nations.
Countries on the continent find themselves in a delicate position and will not want to get drawn into proxy battles, says Remi Adekoya, associate lecturer at England’s University of York.
“There’s a strong strand of thought in African diplomacy that says African states should maintain the principle of non-interference and so they shouldn’t get caught up in proxy wars between the East and the West. As some states did get caught up in proxy wars during the Cold War, for instance,” Adekoya told CNN.
They moved to Ukraine for an education. Now they're living in a city occupied by Russian forces
One influential voice that has made it clear he will not make an enemy out of Russian leader Vladimir Putin is South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
While addressing his country’s parliament Thursday, he said: “Our position is very clear … there are those who are insisting that we should take a very adversarial stance and position against, say Russia. And the approach that we have chosen to take … is we are insisting that there should be dialogue.”
After initially releasing a statement calling for Russia to immediately pull its forces out of Ukraine, South Africa has since laid the blame for the war directly at NATO’s doorstep for considering Ukraine’s membership into the military alliance, which Russia is against.
“The war could have been avoided if NATO had heeded the warnings from amongst its own leaders and officials over the years that its eastward expansion would lead to greater, not less instability in the region.” Ramaphosa said in parliament Thursday.
Former South African President Jacob Zuma also earlier issued a statement saying Russia “felt provoked.”
“Putin has been very patient with the western forces. He has been crystal clear about his opposition of the eastern expansion of … NATO into Ukraine … and is on the record about the military threat posed to Russia by the presence of the forces … it looks justifiable that Russia felt provoked,” Zuma said in a statement issued by his foundation on March 6.
Higher food prices and slumping trade. How the war in Ukraine could hit Africa
South Africa has strong ties to Russia and Ramaphosa has written about being approached to be a mediator in the conflict given its membership of BRICS — a group of emerging economies comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The ties between the two countries also date back to apartheid times when the former Soviet Union supported South Africa and the African National Congress party in their liberation struggles. “Those favors have not been forgotten,” said Adekoya.
South Africa was one of 17 African nations to abstain on the UN resolution demanding that Russia immediately withdraw from oncloud shoes Ukraine on March 2. It took a similar stance during Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Nigeria and Egypt were among the 28 African nations that voted to condemn Russia, while eight others didn’t submit a vote. Eritrea was the only African country that outrightly voted against the resolution.
Zimbabwe’s foreign ministry said in a statement it was unconvinced that the UN resolution was driven towards dialogue, rather “it poured more fuel to the fire, thus complicating the situation.”

‘Strongman leadership’

Many of the countries that abstained from the UN vote are authoritarian regimes. They see Putin’s unilateral decision to invade Ukraine as a show of power and ego that they can appreciate and align with, Yetunde Odugbesan-Omede, a political analyst and professor at New York’s Farmingdale State College, told CNN.
 One of those who have spoken out prominently in support of the Russian leader is Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the influential son of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
 His father has ruled Uganda with an iron fist for 36 years and there has been speculation that Kainerugaba is a would-be successor when the 78-year-old Museveni eventually stands down.
 Kainerugaba tweeted that: “The majority of mankind (that are non-white) support Russia’s stand in Ukraine. Putin is absolutely right!”
  Some African countries have also hesitated in speaking out against Russia because they want to “keep their options open if they face existential threats or some kind of revolution in their own country in the future,” said Adekoya.
 “They saw Putin keep Assad in power in Syria because if not for Russia’s intervention, Assad’s regime would have fallen long ago,” he added.
 Adekoya also pointed out that some of the muted response stems from what is perceived as Western hypocrisy.
On GPS: Kenya's clarion call on Ukraine

Kenya’s UN Security Council representative Martin Kimani gave a powerful speech on the brink of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Kimani drew a parallel between Ukraine’s emergence as an independent state after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the experience of post-colonial states in Africa, criticizing Russian PresidentVladimir Putin’s buildup of forces and his support for redrawing Ukraine’s borders by recognizing the breakaway statelets of Donetsk and Luhansk.
“Kenya rejects such a yearning from being pursued by force,” he said, referring to Russia’s recognition of the two territories as independent states. “We must complete our recovery from the embers of dead empires in a way that does not plunge us back into new forms of domination and oppression.”
During the speech, he also mentioned kizik shoes other nations on the Security Council who had breached international law and faced no sanctions.  “He didn’t mention them by name, but he was talking about the US and UK who invaded Iraq in 2003 … and were never really held to account,” Adekoya said.
“There are many people in many parts of the world who would like to see other regions gaining strength and would like to see the end of Western domination of the world order, putting it simply … of course, no right-thinking person in Africa or anywhere in the world looks at what is going on in Ukraine now and thinks that it’s a good thing …  but many people do see the hypocrisy,” he added.

Establishing stronger ties

In recent years, Russia has established itself as one of Africa’s most valuable trading partners — becoming a major supplier of military hardware with key alliances in Nigeria, Libya, Ethiopia and Mali.
 Africa accounted for 18% of Russian arms exports between 2016 and 2020, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) think tank.
Some analysts say the support or non-censure of Russia speaks to a wider sentiment in parts of Africa that Western policy positions do not always work in their favor.
 “The message that Moscow is pushing is that if you are tired of the paternalistic way the West approaches you, we are going to be your security partners. It will be a relationship of equals,” Aanu Adeoye, a Russia-Africa analyst at Chatham House, told CNN.
Unlike many of its European counterparts, Russia is not a former colonial power in Africa and so has a wider scope of opportunity in making soft power moves that aim to challenge Western dominance on the continent.
The Soviet Union also had client relationships with many African states during the Cold War, and Moscow has looked to revive some of those ties.
Before the invasion, Russian state media outlet RT announced plans to set up a new hub in Kenya with a job ad that said it wanted to “cover stories that have been overlooked by other organizations” and that “challenge conventional wisdom about Africa.
 Yet Africa has often been at the heart of the tussle for influence in the great power competitions between key geopolitical players such as the US, China and Russia.
 Some countries are trying to leverage this position in a variety of ways.
Odugbesan-Omede explained that Tanzania, for example, has identified the current situation as a chance for its energy industry to profit. “Tanzania’s President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, sees this an opportunity to look for markets to export gas,” she said.Tanzania has the sixth largest gas reserve in Africa. While some African countries will sustain some economic shock from the Russian-Ukraine fight, others are trying to weather the storm by looking for new avenues of profitability,” Odugbesan-Omede added.

Analysis: Why some African countries are thinking twice about calling out Putin

Nelson Mandela was once asked why he still had relationships with, among others, Fidel Castro and Yasser Arafat, the Cuban and Palestinian leaders who had been branded terrorists by Western powers. The revered South African statesman replied that it was a mistake “to think that their enemies should be our enemies.”

This stance has largely typified some African nations’ response to the Russia-Ukraine war. Across the continent, many appear hesitant to risk their own security, foreign investment and trade by backing one side in this conflict.
While there has been widespread condemnation of the attacks on Ukrainian civilians and their own citizens fleeing the warzone — from countries such oncloud shoes as Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya — there has been a much more muted response from some key African nations.
Countries on the continent find themselves in a delicate position and will not want to get drawn into proxy battles, says Remi Adekoya, associate lecturer at England’s University of York.
“There’s a strong strand of thought in African diplomacy that says African states should maintain the principle of non-interference and so they shouldn’t get caught up in proxy wars between the East and the West. As some states did get caught up in proxy wars during the Cold War, for instance,” Adekoya told CNN.
They moved to Ukraine for an education. Now they're living in a city occupied by Russian forces
One influential voice that has made it clear he will not make an enemy out of Russian leader Vladimir Putin is South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
While addressing his country’s parliament Thursday, he said: “Our position is very clear … there are those who are insisting that we should take a very adversarial stance and position against, say Russia. And the approach that we have chosen to take … is we are insisting that there should be dialogue.”
After initially releasing a statement calling for Russia to immediately pull its forces out of Ukraine, South Africa has since laid the blame for the war directly at NATO’s doorstep for considering Ukraine’s membership into the military alliance, which Russia is against.
“The war could have been avoided if NATO had heeded the warnings from amongst its own leaders and officials over the years that its eastward expansion would lead to greater, not less instability in the region.” Ramaphosa said in parliament Thursday.
Former South African President Jacob Zuma also earlier issued a statement saying Russia “felt provoked.”
“Putin has been very patient with the western forces. He has been crystal clear about his opposition of the eastern expansion of … NATO into Ukraine … and is on the record about the military threat posed to Russia by the presence of the forces … it looks justifiable that Russia felt provoked,” Zuma said in a statement issued by his foundation on March 6.
Higher food prices and slumping trade. How the war in Ukraine could hit Africa
South Africa has strong ties to Russia and Ramaphosa has written about being approached to be a mediator in the conflict given its membership of BRICS — a group of emerging economies comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The ties between the two countries also date back to apartheid times when the former Soviet Union supported South Africa and the African National Congress party in their liberation struggles. “Those favors have not been forgotten,” said Adekoya.
South Africa was one of 17 African kizik shoes nations to abstain on the UN resolution demanding that Russia immediately withdraw from Ukraine on March 2. It took a similar stance during Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Nigeria and Egypt were among the 28 African nations that voted to condemn Russia, while eight others didn’t submit a vote. Eritrea was the only African country that outrightly voted against the resolution.
Zimbabwe’s foreign ministry said in a statement it was unconvinced that the UN resolution was driven towards dialogue, rather “it poured more fuel to the fire, thus complicating the situation.”

‘Strongman leadership’

Many of the countries that abstained from the UN vote are authoritarian regimes. They see Putin’s unilateral decision to invade Ukraine as a show of power and ego that they can appreciate and align with, Yetunde Odugbesan-Omede, a political analyst and professor at New York’s Farmingdale State College, told CNN.
 One of those who have spoken out prominently in support of the Russian leader is Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the influential son of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
 His father has ruled Uganda with an iron fist for 36 years and there has been speculation that Kainerugaba is a would-be successor when the 78-year-old Museveni eventually stands down.
 Kainerugaba tweeted that: “The majority of mankind (that are non-white) support Russia’s stand in Ukraine. Putin is absolutely right!”
  Some African countries have also hesitated in speaking out against Russia because they want to “keep their options open if they face existential threats or some kind of revolution in their own country in the future,” said Adekoya.
 “They saw Putin keep Assad in power in Syria because if not for Russia’s intervention, Assad’s regime would have fallen long ago,” he added.
 Adekoya also pointed out that some of the muted response stems from what is perceived as Western hypocrisy.
Kenya’s UN Security Council representative Martin Kimani gave a powerful speech on the brink of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Kimani drew a parallel between Ukraine’s emergence as an independent state after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the experience of post-colonial states in Africa, criticizing Russian PresidentVladimir Putin’s buildup of forces and his support for redrawing Ukraine’s borders by recognizing the breakaway statelets of Donetsk and Luhansk.
“Kenya rejects such a yearning from being pursued by force,” he said, referring to Russia’s recognition of the two territories as independent states. “We must complete our recovery from the embers of dead empires in a way that does not plunge us back into new forms of domination and oppression.”
During the speech, he also mentioned other nations on the Security Council who had breached international law and faced no sanctions.  “He didn’t mention them by name, but he was talking about the US and UK who invaded Iraq in 2003 … and were never really held to account,” Adekoya said.
“There are many people in many parts of the world who would like to see other regions gaining strength and would like to see the end of Western domination of the world order, putting it simply … of course, no right-thinking person in Africa or anywhere in the world looks at what is going on in Ukraine now and thinks that it’s a good thing …  but many people do see the hypocrisy,” he added.

Establishing stronger ties

In recent years, Russia has established itself as one of Africa’s most valuable trading partners — becoming a major supplier of military hardware with key alliances in Nigeria, Libya, Ethiopia and Mali.
 Africa accounted for 18% of Russian arms exports between 2016 and 2020, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) think tank.
Some analysts say the support or non-censure of Russia speaks to a wider sentiment in parts of Africa that nobull shoes Western policy positions do not always work in their favor.
 “The message that Moscow is pushing is that if you are tired of the paternalistic way the West approaches you, we are going to be your security partners. It will be a relationship of equals,” Aanu Adeoye, a Russia-Africa analyst at Chatham House, told CNN.
Unlike many of its European counterparts, Russia is not a former colonial power in Africa and so has a wider scope of opportunity in making soft power moves that aim to challenge Western dominance on the continent.
The Soviet Union also had client relationships with many African states during the Cold War, and Moscow has looked to revive some of those ties.
Before the invasion, Russian state media outlet RT announced plans to set up a new hub in Kenya with a job ad that said it wanted to “cover stories that have been overlooked by other organizations” and that “challenge conventional wisdom about Africa.
 Yet Africa has often been at the heart of the tussle for influence in the great power competitions between key geopolitical players such as the US, China and Russia.
 Some countries are trying to leverage this position in a variety of ways.
Odugbesan-Omede explained that Tanzania, for example, has identified the current situation as a chance for its energy industry to profit. “Tanzania’s President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, sees this an opportunity to look for markets to export gas,” she said.”Tanzania has the sixth largest gas reserve in Africa. While some African countries will sustain some economic shock from the Russian-Ukraine fight, others are trying to weather the storm by looking for new avenues of profitability,” Odugbesan-Omede added.

Russia is about to shut off some of Germany’s gas

Russia is about to shut off its natural gas supplies to Shell’s German customers.

Gazprom (GZPFY), the Russian state energy giant, said on Tuesday it would suspend natural gas exports to Shell (SHLX) starting Wednesday because the company had failed to make payments in rubles.
“Shell Energy Europe Limited has notified Gazprom Export LLC that it does not intend to make payments under the contract for the supply of gas to Germany in rubles,” Gazprom said in a statement on its Telegram account.
Gazprom said Shell would lose up to 1.2 billion cubic meters worth of annual gas supply — just a tiny fraction of the 95 billion cubic meters the country consumes each year, according to Germany’s economic ministry.
But Gazprom’s move is still likely to rattle German industry, which is heavily reliant on Moscow’s gas. The country has already managed to slash Russia’s share of its gas imports to 35% from 55% before the start of the war.
A spokesperson for the German government told CNN Business that it was “monitoring the situation very closely.”
“Security of supply is guaranteed,” the spokesperson added.
Gazprom’s announcement comes just a day after it said it would halt gas supplies to Danish energy company Ørsted and Dutch gas trading firm GasTerra, and weeks after it turned off the taps to Poland, Bulgaria and Finland.
In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to cut gas deliveries to “unfriendly” countries that refused to pay in rubles, rather than the euros or dollars stated in contracts.
Since then, Gazprom has offered customers a solution. Buyers could make euro or dollar payments into an account at Russia’s Gazprombank, which would then convert the funds into rubles and transfer them to a second account from which the payment to Russia would be made.
But many European companies, including Shell Energy, have refused to comply.
“Shell has not agreed to new payment terms set out by Gazprom,” a Shell spokesperson told CNN Business on Tuesday. “We will work to continue supplying our customers in Europe through our diverse portfolio of gas supply.”
The Netherlands’ GasTerra similarly said in a Monday statement that it would not comply with Gazprom’s “one-sided payment requirements.”
Henning Gloystein, director of Energy, Climate and Resources at Eurasia Group, told CNN Business that the latest shut off does not represent a “major revenue loss” for Gazprom, given exports to Shell Germany accounted for less than 1% of Russia’s total exports to the European Union last year.
“By contrast, European energy firms that rely much more on Russian supply… have largely switched to Gazprom’s new payment mechanism in order to safeguard their operations,” he added.

Mississippi health officials warn some pregnant women have been denied COVID vaccine despite ongoing surge

Despite the persistent pleas by public health officials to get vaccinated as coronavirus infections continue to surge, a staggeringly low number of pregnant people have been vaccinated against the virus nationwide.

Just 25% of pregnant people in the United States between the ages of 18 and 49 are currently vaccinated with at least one dose, according to data through Sept. 11 compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The decision to not get vaccinated has resulted in a growing number of pregnant people ending up in intensive care wards, brooks shoes many severely ill with COVID-19. This worrisome uptick has been particularly evident in Mississippi, where state health officials have been sounding the alarm not only about the influx of fetal and maternal deaths, but also about several reports of pregnant women being turned away from getting the shot.

“Some of the patients had reported to us that they had gone to be vaccinated, and were turned away because they were pregnant. Those were people who were just sharing their experiences at pharmacies and other areas around the state,” Dr. Michelle Owens, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at University of Mississippi Medical Center, told ABC News.

PHOTO: In this Feb. 11, 2021, file photo, Michelle Melton, who is 35 weeks pregnant, receives the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus disease at Skippack Pharmacy in Schwenksville, Pa. (Hannah Beier/Reuters, FILE)
PHOTO: In this Feb. 11, 2021, file photo, Michelle Melton, who is 35 weeks pregnant, receives the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus disease at Skippack Pharmacy in Schwenksville, Pa.

Owens, alongside other state health officials, reported this week that not all of their patients had been vaccine-hesitant, but instead were turned down after disclosing that they were expecting.

“People are kind of adverse to pregnant patients when they come in. They’re hesitant to give pregnant patients medications, and certainly, vaccinations kind of fall into that,” said Dr. Marty Tucker, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at UMMC, during a press conference on Thursday.

In light of the concerning reports, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs issued a standing order last week for women to receive COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy, “to give the pharmacy some reassurance for the places that it’s OK clarks shoes uk and recommended for pregnant women to get immunized at any stage in pregnancy.”

Owens added that health officials and physicians were all working together “to help reduce barriers to vaccination for pregnant women, and we just really tried to amplify this information so that wherever a pregnant person goes in order to receive care or to receive a vaccine that they are welcomed with open arms and that they receive that vaccine.”

In Mississippi, 72 patients have experienced late pregnancy loss and 15 pregnant women have succumbed to the virus, more than half of whom have died since the end of July. None of the pregnant women who died was fully vaccinated, and the majority were overweight, according to Dobbs.

“There are NICUs all over this country that are filling up with babies who will not get to know their moms, and that’s devastating. There are families who are losing their matriarchs, and then, there are women who have been infected by this virus who won’t ever be the same,” Owens said.

Since the onset of the pandemic, more than 21,000 pregnant people have been hospitalized nationwide, and at least 155 have died as result of COVID-19, according to federal data. Additionally, there have been at least 266 pregnancy losses nationwide, and approximately 10.3% of patients have had to deliver prematurely.

PHOTO: In this Feb. 11, 2021, file photo, Aubrie Cusumano, who is 39 weeks pregnant, receives the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine while holding her son, Luca's hand at Skippack Pharmacy in Schwenksville, Penn. (Hannah Beier/Reuters, FILE)
PHOTO: In this Feb. 11, 2021, file photo, Aubrie Cusumano, who is 39 weeks pregnant, receives the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine while holding her son, Luca’s hand at Skippack Pharmacy in Schwenksville, Penn. 

“When we lose a mom, especially something that could be prevented, it is a tragedy. It does not discriminate, we see it in people with and without co-morbidities. We see it in people as young as 23 years old, so it is a bad actor across the board,” Tucker said.

Earlier in the pandemic, pregnant women at UMMC were not becoming as severely ill with COVID-19, but following the spread of the delta variant, Owens said, it became evident patients were becoming severely ill and deteriorating more quickly.

“We are seeing women, who may not have other co-morbid conditions, being affected at an earlier gestational age. hey dude shoes Most of the people who we’re seeing now, are affected in the middle of their pregnancy, and they have a much more aggressive form of the disease,” Owens said. “The next thing you know, they end up progressing very quickly to need intubation.”

MORE: Mississippi health officials plea for vaccination after ‘significant’ number of COVID-19 fatalities in pregnant women

Pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 when compared to non-pregnant people, according to the CDC. In addition, they are also at increased risk for preterm birth and other poor pregnancy outcomes.

The CDC and other leading health organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, have issued guidelines calling on all pregnant people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“CDC encourages all pregnant people or people who are thinking about becoming pregnant and those breastfeeding to get vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement about the updated guidance last month. “The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible Delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people.”

The updated guidance from the CDC was based on further research that found pregnant people can receive an mRNA vaccine with no increased risk to themselves or their babies.

“[It] is really the most important thing to give pregnant women an opportunity to still be able to live to fight another day,” Owens said. “It’s really imperative that women get the good information to know that the COVID vaccine is safe, approved and recommended, and that it makes a big difference in whether or not a patient has severe disease, or potentially, could die.”

Nothing to buy, nothing to rent: Some Americans are stuck in housing limbo

When Rebecca DiLorenzo’s landlord of 14 months informed her that he would be raising the rent by $300 a month on the apartment in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, she shares with her fiancé, Kyle, she started to look around for a place to buy.

“Our mindset last spring was, ‘We’re getting married, we need to buy a house’ and for a while we were going to open houses every weekend, but the market was just getting crazier and crazier,” she said.

After getting outbid on four houses — by as much as $50,000 — DiLorenzo knew they needed a Plan B. “We didn’t want to stay in our rental because it would have cost almost double what a mortgage would have been, but we also didn’t want to buy a house we really couldn’t afford,” she said.

Priced out of both the sales and rental market, the soon-to-be newlyweds are now living with family until things settle down.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 02: A
A “for rent” sign posted in front of an apartment building on June 02, 2021 in San Francisco, California. After San Francisco rental prices plummeted during the pandemic shutdown, prices have surged back to pre-pandemic levels.

This scenario is becoming increasingly familiar, said Rick Sharga, executive vice president of RealtyTrac, a real estate information company.

“First there was nothing to buy and now there’s nothing to rent,” he said. “The eviction ban has also frozen a lot of inventory that would have otherwise come to market.”

Availability is limited across the board, said Jay Parsons, deputy asics shoes chief economist for RealPage, a leading provider of home rental analytics. “Apartment occupancy is now at the highest level in at least three decades, and it’s a similar story in single-family rentals,” Parsons said.

“There’s a great reshuffling under way and everyone’s moving all at once,” said Nicole Bachaud, an economic data analyst with Zillow. This includes workers moving out of shared situations and transitioning back to the office, ‘digital nomads’ exploring new locations now that they have more guidance from their employers, and new grads moving for their first jobs.

Competition is pushing rents higher in places like Phoenix, Riverside in California, Tampa, South Florida (especially West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, but even Miami as well), Atlanta, Memphis, as well as Texas, the Carolinas, and most of the Sun Belt and Mountain regions, according to Parsons.

“It’s bonkers,” said Jeff Andrews, data journalist at Zumper, a national rental listing platform. “In ‘normal’ times you see steady growth in any given market, but the rent increases that are happening now — and the intensity and pace of it — is unprecedented. It’s not something we’ve ever seen in the U.S.”

In some markets, prices are increasing daily. Nowhere is this more apparent than in markets that were hit the hardest and are now rebounding quickly, such as New York City.

“Things started turning around in April as the city reopened, and now everything’s going in a ‘New York minute,’” brooks shoes said Brown Harris Stevens’ Justine Bray, who has worked in real estate in city for 27 years. “It’s insane.”

Recently, Bray was working with a client in Thailand who was eyeing an apartment in New York City’s Murray Hill.

“This apartment went from $5,164 to $5,559, then $5,715, $5,882, $5,929,” she recalled. “So every day my client was waking up and seeing it was costing more. We ended up getting it in July for a little over $6,200.”

Lexington, Minnesota, Homes for sale, with demand high and supply low, homes are going for more than sellers expect. (Photo by: Michael Siluk/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Lexington, Minnesota, Homes for sale, with demand high and supply low, homes are going for more than sellers expect.

Prices are escalating even after contracts have been signed.

Pam Crocker recently experienced this firsthand when she put in an offer — at full asking price — for a luxury two-bedroom rental apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. After making a deposit (including first months’ rent plus security), and signing the lease, keen shoes she waited patiently for the owner who had accepted the offer to countersign.

“There was one delay after the next and they kept telling me there were all these other higher offers,” Crocker said. “I was getting annoyed to the point where I almost backed out, but I had my heart set on this apartment.”

It ended up costing her $1,200 more per month than the initially accepted offer. “I’ve done a lot of real estate transactions and owned villas in Jamaica, but had never been jerked around like this,” said Crocker.

When will things simmer down? Soon, Parsons said.

“What we’re seeing right now in the for-sale housing market is likely a sign of things to come in rental housing later this year,” Parsons said, “where the market goes from ‘really, really hot’ to just ‘hot.’”

‘I’m still not planning to get it’: FDA approval not swaying some vaccine holdouts

For five months, Chris Brummett has ignored his wife’s pleas that he get a coronavirus vaccine. He cares even less that federal regulators finally issued a long-awaited approval for one of them.

“My wife is on me all the time to do it,” said Brummett, 43, from Jackson County, Ind., who followed news this week of the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine. But Brummett, a libertarian critical of both the Biden and Trump administrations, hey dude shoes said he’s struggling to trust any government messages about the virus. “I guess for now it’s a no for me.”

Tyler McCann, 24, of Augusta, Ga., also remains a skeptic, citing the low risk of complications for people his age. “If I get it,” McCann says of covid-19, “I will blame myself entirely. It’ll be my fault. But until then. . . I don’t see the necessity, and with how politicized it’s been, I’m just annoyed with it.”

Mark Anthony Garcia, 49, of Ingleside, Texas, ponders new questions since the FDA’s approval. “If the vaccine’s that good, why are we having breakthroughs?” said Garcia, referencing reports of coronavirus cases among fully vaccinated Americans. “They’re blaming [the pandemic] on the unvaccinated, but the vaccinated are spreading it too.”

Federal officials have sought for months to persuade holdouts like Brummett, McCann and Garcia, who are among the roughly 85 million still-unvaccinated eligible Americans – a largely entrenched population despite a range of incentives, political appeals and now mandates to get the shots. But hopes that many of those skeptics would be swayed by vaccine approval appear to have been unrealistic, according to interviews with 16 unvaccinated Americans – including six who said earlier this year that they would be more likely to get vaccinated if FDA approved the shots.

The FDA’s approval “increased the likelihood” of getting vaccinated, said Derrick M., a 27-year-old who just left active-duty military service and like several, spoke with The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity for fear he might be harassed. “But at this time, I’m still not planning to get it.”

The sheer number of still-skeptical Americans – and their willingness to shift the goalposts on what might convince them – underscores that vaccination mandates are essential, said Robert Murphy, an infectious-disease physician and executive director of the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

Thousands of employers have already imposed vaccine requirements on workers, with a slew of additional organizations, ranging from the Pentagon to CVS Health, citing the FDA approval when announcing their own mandates this week. skechers uk While regulators had previously authorized the shots for emergency use, the agency’s formal approval is expected to provide further legal cover for companies that had debated requirements.

“That’s what’s going to do it,” Murphy said. “If they realize that they’re going to lose their job, they’re going to really think twice whether they really want to avoid the vaccine.”

Only a single unvaccinated person interviewed by The Post said the FDA approval had changed his mind – but he’s not eligible to get vaccinated until November, because he received Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment for a recent coronavirus infection.

“I can’t get it for 90 days according to my doctor ’cause of the antibodies I got now from the corona,” said Cliff Barnett, 67, of Mobile, Ala., who was hospitalized for five days earlier this month.

Barnett said he did not regret waiting to get vaccinated, despite a case of coronavirus that was so severe he collapsed to the floor when he first walked into the hospital two weeks ago. “It could’ve been worse,” he said.

Public health experts had eagerly awaited the FDA’s action for months, with anticipation mounting in June after the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 31 percent of unvaccinated adults said they would be more likely to get vaccinated if the FDA granted full approval to one of the vaccines.

That statistic and similar predictions were widely touted this week by politicians and pundits. The government’s top-infectious disease expert, Anthony S. Fauci, predicted on NPR on Monday that at least 18 million vaccine skeptics “will now step forward and get vaccinated.”

“If you’re one of the millions of Americans who said that they will not get the shot . . . until it has full and final approval of the FDA, brooks shoes it has now happened,” President Biden said Monday. “The moment you’ve been waiting for is here, and it’s time for you to go get your vaccination and get it today.”

But an expert who oversaw the Kaiser Family Foundation poll said she didn’t expect that FDA approval alone would change minds.

“Most people have multiple reasons and concerns about getting vaccinated – it’s not just one thing,” said Liz Hamel, a Kaiser Family Foundation director. “It may take some time for people to think about it.”

Hamel and her colleagues are planning to survey Americans again after Labor Day to gauge reaction to the FDA’s approval, she said.

Meanwhile, vaccine opponents are attacking the FDA’s credibility, with some exhuming previously debunked claims about the agency’s track record and promoting them on social media.

“FDA Approval of Pfizer Shot Does Not Mean Safe,” Liberty Counsel, a conservative advocacy organization that’s fought against vaccination mandates, claimed in a statement to reporters.

Jennifer Bridges, a nurse in Houston, Texas, had told The Post in May that she didn’t trust the vaccines because they lacked full approval. But now that the Pfizer-BioNTech shot has checked that box, Bridges said she and her allies don’t believe regulators did their due diligence.

“Everybody who didn’t want the shot is literally appalled by the fact that it got FDA approved,” Bridges said on Tuesday, arguing that the FDA had rushed to approve the shots despite evidence of their waning efficacy.

Bridges, who was fired from Houston Methodist in June for refusing to comply with its vaccination mandate, said she’s now helping organize other workers – from flight attendants to health care workers – who don’t want to get vaccinated “so they can help fight mandates” as a team.

For some unvaccinated Americans, the FDA approval is the latest in a series of actions and appeals that have fallen flat, or further antagonized them.

Garcia, for instance, said incentive campaigns to get vaccinated, like state lotteries offering millions of dollars in giveaways, undermined his faith in the vaccines. “I feel it’s a tactic to coerce people,” he added. “I felt like I was in Vegas – ‘hey, come to our place, we’ll give you free food and a hotel room.'”

Nearly all of the people who spoke with The Post also chafed at the idea of vaccination mandates, calling them an infringement of their liberties.

“I don’t think that’s appropriate,” said Belinda Bowman-Cook, who lives in Washington, D.C., and declined to give her vaccination status. “There’s plenty of people out here with cancer and other illnesses. If they decided that they don’t want treatment for cancer, you don’t go and say ‘if you don’t take this right here, you’re going to die.'”

But health experts stressed that the situation is different with an infectious disease where it’s everyone’s shared responsibility to keep one another safe. “If only that person was at risk for getting infected, okay, let them go get infected – that’s their choice,” said Murphy, the infectious-disease doctor. “But they’re infecting other people [with coronavirus], and that’s not fair.”

“We don’t let people drive 100 miles an hour on the highway – we make everybody wear a seatbelt,” he added. “We make you put your kids in secure seats in the cars. We even make you buy insurance for your car.”

As some employers weigh whether to require workers to get vaccinated, those who have already done so defend them as essential – and effective. Houston Methodist, for instance, saw more than 97 percent of workers comply with its vaccination mandate, with about 2 percent obtaining exemptions and 1 percent leaving the organization.

“After I announced the mandate at the end of July, the overwhelming responses I got were, ‘thank you, thank you for keeping us safe, I now feel safer coming to work,'” said Janice E. Nevin, CEO of Delaware-based Christiana Care, the largest private employer in the state.

Nevin also said that she believed the FDA approval had sparked more vaccine interest. Thirty-six people turned up at an employee vaccination event held on Christiana Care’s Newark, Del., campus on Tuesday, up from about 25 people at previous events this month, staff said.

“One of our caregivers brought her daughter in,” Nevin said. “Her daughter’s starting nursing school, and is now feeling very comfortable about getting vaccinated.”

Why some experts recommend upgrading to N95 masks to help fight the delta variant

The debate over masks is heating up again, with increasing calls for all Americans, regardless of coronavirus vaccination status, to return to wearing face coverings in indoor public places to help thwart the spread of the highly contagious delta variant. But some experts say the recommendations should specify the kind of masks people should be using.

“Delta is so contagious that when we talk about masks, I don’t think we should just talk about masks,” Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said during a recent appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I think we should be hey dude talking about high-quality masks,” such as N95 respirators.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine and an infectious-disease expert at the University of California at San Francisco, expressed a similar sentiment: “We can’t say we’re going back to masks without discussing type of mask.”

Vaccinations, experts emphasized, remain the first line of defense against the coronavirus.”Far and away the best prevention we have are still the vaccines,” said Paul Sax, clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “All of these things pale in comparison to getting the remaining people who are eligible for vaccination vaccinated.”

But amid concerns about the rapid spread of the delta variant, “it’s a fantastic idea at this point in time to move toward higher-quality masks,” especially if you’re unvaccinated or otherwise vulnerable to severe disease, said Chris Cappa, an environmental engineer and professor at the University of California at Davis. And for fully vaccinated individuals who may still be at risk of breakthrough infections, he noted, “the delta variant is a good reminder that we shouldn’t necessarily quit wearing masks when we’re in environments that might be prone to transmission.”

Here are factors that Cappa and other experts say you should consider about the use of N95 masks.

– Not all masks are created equal. The efficacy of a mask is based on its material and fit. Medical-grade respirators, such as N95 masks, can provide greater protection from infectious coronavirus particles than surgical masks or cloth masks, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech who studies airborne virus transmission.

And because the delta variant is much more easily transmissible than previously circulating strains of the coronavirus, “we really need highly protective masks along with everything else,” Marr said. “Where a simple cloth mask was helpful before, it’s not helpful enough now,” particularly for people who remain unvaccinated.

The woven material of many cloth masks isn’t as effective at filtering particles as the nonwoven, meltblown polypropylene used to make surgical masks and respirators, Marr said. And properly worn N95s have a leg up on standard surgical masks because they are designed to fit snugly to the face – which allows them to filter at least 95 percent of airborne particulates.

“A surgical mask is just a rectangle and you’re trying to pull it to your face,” she said. skechers shoes “Obviously, our faces aren’t in the shape of a flat rectangle, so you inevitably end up with lots of leaks.”

But, Marr noted, it’s important to be wary of counterfeit respirators. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an online guide with lists of N95 masks approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and tips for spotting counterfeit ones.

KN95 masks, which are manufactured in China and can be equivalent to N95s in effectiveness, have not gone through the NIOSH approval process. But the Food and Drug Administration had authorized some KN95s for emergency use by health-care workers when there was a shortage of N95 masks during the pandemic. While you can refer to that list to find effective and not counterfeit KN95 masks, Cappa said he would still recommend a NIOSH-approved N95. “I can have higher confidence that it is high quality,” he said, and “the ability and ease to get N95s has gone way up.”

– Fit and mask care matter. It’s also critical to wear N95s properly, experts said: There should be no gaps between the edges of the mask and your face. To test the seal of your mask, Marr suggested putting on your mask and cupping your hands around it to hold the edges down. If breathing becomes noticeably more difficult, that’s a sign that the mask likely isn’t well-fitted. People who wear glasses can also gauge if their mask is leaky by how much their lenses fog up, Cappa said.

Unlike cloth masks, N95s can’t be washed, so pay attention to the state of your mask. Gandhi said she typically swaps out an N95 every three days as long as it doesn’t become soiled. Between uses experts suggested letting masks air out, preferably in the sun. If there’s any visible signs of wear and tear, it’s time to get a fresh one.

When handling your mask, try to avoid touching the front and make sure to wash or sanitize your hands after, Marr said.

– Some people are more at risk. Switching to an N95 mask may especially be a good idea for more vulnerable people, experts said. This includes the unvaccinated as well as those who are vaccinated but may still be at increased risk, Sax said, such as the elderly and the immunocompromised or people with multiple medical problems. “If they need to be in settings where they’re mixing with unvaccinated people or they don’t know the vaccination status, then upgrading their mask is very reasonable.”

It may be less important for fully vaccinated healthy people to have a high-performance mask, experts said. Combining “really almost any mask-wearing” and vaccination still “provide generally quite good protection,” Cappa said.

He recommended that vaccinated, low-risk individuals make decisions about upgrading their masks based on situational factors. Keep in mind, he said, that the longer you’re in an enclosed space in proximity to other people, the more your odds of catching something go up. brooks shoes Community rates of transmission and hospitalizations should also be considered.

– There are other ways to boost protection. Although N95s are considered by many experts to be the gold standard, the respirators – which can become uncomfortable after prolonged use – may not be appropriate for all vulnerable populations. Take, for instance, children who are not eligible to receive vaccines but old enough to wear masks.

The CDC notes that NIOSH doesn’t approve any respiratory protection, such as N95s, for use among children. What’s more, standard N95s are likely going to be too big to fit tightly on a child’s face.

Because any face covering has to be worn properly to be effective, Gandhi said, you should prioritize making mask-wearing “palatable for children and easier to do.”

It’s also important to remember that children are generally less susceptible to contracting the coronavirus. But if a child is immunocompromised, Gandhi suggested increasing protection with a three-layer mask made of tightly woven fabric outer layers sandwiching a middle filter layer. Just be mindful that the filter layer needs to be replaced when the mask is washed.

– Activities and surroundings matter. Although mask debates are once again moving to the forefront of public attention, Sax said, the conversation should center on other factors that affect the spread of the coronavirus.

“A lot of the focus on transmission should shift not so much to the mask-wearing or not mask-wearing, but the activities” people are doing, Sax said, such as dining indoors or holding parties.

These are the settings where transmission is happening, especially if there is crowding or the ventilation is poor, he said. “And that’s occurring even more efficiently with the delta variant.”

She Hates Biden. Some of Her Neighbors Hate the Way She Shows It.

Andrea Dick is a die-hard supporter of former President Donald Trump and thinks the election was stolen from him, although that claim has been thoroughly discredited. She does not like President Joe Biden, and that is putting it mildly.

Her opinions are clear in the blunt slogans blaring from the banners outside her New Jersey home: “Don’t Blame Me/I Voted for Trump” and several others that attack Biden in crude terms. Several feature a word that some people find particularly objectionable but whose use the hey dude shoes Supreme Court long ago ruled could not be restricted simply to protect those it offends.

When local officials asked her to take down several of the banners that they said violated an anti-obscenity ordinance, she refused. Now, she is resisting a judge’s order that she do so and pledging to fight it in court on free speech grounds.

“It’s my First Amendment right,” she said in an interview on Monday, “and I’m going to stick with that.”

In a country where the political fault lines are increasingly jagged and deep, Dick’s case is the latest of several such disputes to highlight the delicate balance local officials must sometimes strike between defending free speech and responding to concerns about language that some residents find offensive.

Dick, 54, said she acquired the banners — which are available from Amazon and other retailers — earlier this year, but did not hang them on the home in Roselle Park where she lives with her mother, or on the fence outside, until Memorial Day.

“Something must have gotten me worked up,” she said.

Shortly after the holiday weekend, she said, she became aware that some Roselle Park residents, noting that her home was near a school, were upset about the language on the banners and about the potential for passing children to see it.

Dick, whose mother, Patricia Dilascio, owns the house, said that no children lived on the ecco shoes block and that no children routinely walk by on their way to the school.

But the town’s mayor, Joseph Signorello III, said he had received several complaints about the banners, which he passed on to the borough’s code enforcement officer. Residents of Roselle Park, a town of 14,000 people about a 40-minute drive from Times Square, voted overwhelmingly for Biden in November.

“This is not about politics in any way,” said Signorello, a Democrat. He added that officials would have taken the same steps if the signs expressed opposition to Trump using similar language. “It’s about decency.”

After visiting the home, the code enforcement officer, Judy Mack, cited Dilascio for violating a Roselle Park ordinance that prohibits the display or exhibition of obscene material within the borough.

Mack said that in more than 12 years as a code enforcement officer in Roselle Park, she had never invoked the ordinance before. She also said that while Signorello had passed on the residents’ complaints, he had not directed her to take any specific action.

“I’m only doing my job,” Mack said.

Dick was given a few days to remove the banners, Mack said. When she did not, she was given a summons to appear in court.

At that appearance, last Thursday, Judge Gary A. Bundy of Roselle Park Municipal Court gave Dilascio, brooks shoes as the property owner, a week to remove three of the 10 signs displayed on the property — the ones including the offending word — or face fines of $250 a day.

“There are alternative methods for the defendant to express her pleasure or displeasure with certain political figures in the United States,” Bundy said in his ruling, noting the proximity of Dick’s home to a school.

The use of vulgarity, he continued, “exposes elementary-age children to that word, every day, as they pass by the residence.”

“Freedom of speech is not simply an absolute right,” he added, noting later that “the case is not a case about politics. It is a case, pure and simple, about language. This ordinance does not restrict political speech.” (Nj.com reported Bundy’s ruling on Friday.)

Jarrid Kantor, Roselle Park’s borough attorney, applauded the judge’s decision, saying that local officials had been careful not to make an issue out of the political nature of Dick’s banners and had focused instead on the potential harm to children.

“We think he got it just right,” Kantor said.

But Thomas Healy, a law professor at Seton Hall University with expertise in constitutional issues, disagreed.

Citing a 1971 Supreme Court decision, Cohen v. California, that turned on the question of whether the same word at issue in Dick’s case was obscene, Healy said the word clearly did not qualify as obscene speech in the context of the political banners.

“It’s hard to imagine a simpler case from a constitutional standpoint,” he said, adding that he would be “stunned” if Bundy’s ruling were upheld.

Healy said he also found it troubling that the enforcement action had come after the mayor relayed concerns about the banners to the code enforcement officer, even though both of them said that Signorello had not directed any specific action.

“It doesn’t look good,” Healy said.

Conflicts like the one involving Dick have flared up this year on Long Island, New York; in Indiana, Tennessee and Connecticut; and about a half-hour’s drive south of Roselle Park, in Hazlet, New Jersey.

Hazlet officials received complaints like those in Roselle Park when a homeowner put up a similar anti-Biden banner there, Mayor Tara Clark said.

Citing an anti-nuisance ordinance, Clark said, officials approached the homeowner last month and asked that he remove the offending flag, but they did not take any steps to force him to do so.

“We knew that there were residents who were upset,” she said. “but we also know that free speech is protected under the Constitution of the United States.”

Though some people might have been unhappy that the banner could not be forced down, Clark said that she and her fellow Hazlet officials felt it was important to stand up for the First Amendment.

“It ended there,” she said. (The homeowner took the banner down last week, she said.)

As for Dick, she and her mother have about two weeks to appeal Bundy’s ruling to New Jersey Superior Court. He said the daily fines would begin accruing on Thursday if the offending banners remained up, regardless of whether Dick and her mother chose to appeal. If they do appeal, he suggested they take the banners down pending the outcome.

On Monday, Dick did not sound like she planned to follow that advice. She said she was looking for a new lawyer and was committed to seeing the case through.

“I’m not backing down,” she said.