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BREAKING: Hurricane Fiona makes landfall along southwestern coast of Puerto Rico

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By by Gloria Ikibah

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Hurricane Fiona has made a landfall along the extreme southwestern coast of Puerto Rico near Punta Tocon at 3:20p.m. ET with winds of 85 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Power has gone out across all of the US territory of Puerto Rico on Sunday, according to Poweroutage.us, as Hurricane Fiona bears down on the islands, which are already grappling with the threat of flooding and mudslides stemming from the Category 1 storm.

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“Puerto Rico is 100% without power due to a transmission grid failure from Hurricane Fiona,” the website said.

Governor Pedro Pierluisi confirmed the outage in a tweet, and noted that the entire electric system was out of service and officials have activated the proper protocols to work to restore power.

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The blackout — which followed hours of progressively worsening power outages — comes five years after Puerto Rico’s power grid was devastated by Hurricane Maria in September 2017, leaving many residents without electricity for months.

But officials have stressed it won’t be like last time: Not long before the lights went out, Abner Gomez, head of public safety and crisis management at LUMA Energy, which operates Puerto Rico’s power grid, said utility authorities plan to repair and restore electricity with the help of local government agencies.

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“This is not Maria, this hurricane will not be Maria,” Gomez said.

Fiona has continued to strengthen Sunday and now packs sustained winds of 85 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center’s update at 2 p.m. ET, at which point the storm was about 25 miles southwest of the city of Ponce.

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The storm’s impacts have already been felt: At least one death has been reported in Basse-Terre in the French territory of Guadeloupe, according to the vice president of the territory’s environmental agency, who said the capital had been devastated by flooding. And in Puerto Rico, flash flooding has already begun.

Pierluisi warned the storm “will cover our entire island” in a news conference Sunday, noting winds and rain bands from the storm may extend outward up to 100 to 120 miles. “This is impacting us now,” Pierluisi said. “It’s south of Puerto Rico but very close to our coast.”

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The hurricane — the third of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season — is bearing down on Puerto Rico, with the eyewall approaching the southern coast, according to the National Weather Service’s office in San Juan.

Winds are expected to increase along the immediate coastline, the hurricane center said, while conditions are forecast to deteriorate throughout Sunday afternoon and evening as Fiona moves near or over the southwestern part of Puerto Rico.

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Evacuees are seen in a classroom of a public school being used as a shelter as Hurricane Fiona and its heavy rains approach in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, on Sunday.

There is a possibility Fiona’s center might skirt Puerto Rico, precluding a traditional “landfall.” But regardless, the impacts of the storm remain the same.

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“Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours while Fiona moves near Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and over the southwestern Atlantic,” the hurricane center said.

“Hurricane conditions are expected on Puerto Rico today, and are expected in portions of the eastern Dominican Republic tonight and Monday.”

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The National Weather Service on Sunday warned of life-threatening to catastrophic flooding, issuing flash flood warnings for south and east Puerto Rico, including Ponce and Yabucoa, through at least mid-afternoon. The service said flooding had started after an estimated 1 to 4 inches of rain had already fallen.

Very heavy rainfall of 12 to 16 inches is forecast across a wide swath of Puerto Rico, with most of the rain expected Sunday, and isolated locations across southern and eastern Puerto Rico could see up to 25 inches, per the hurricane center.

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Fiona’s current forecast storm track across the Atlantic.
The northern and eastern Dominican Republic, too, is forecast to see 4 to 8 inches of rain, with isolated totals up to 12 inches possible.

“These rains will produce life-threatening flash flooding and urban flooding across Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic, along with mudslides and landslides in areas of higher terrain,” the hurricane center said.

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Already, authorities have responded to one such landslide: Emergency officials responded Saturday evening to a landslide around 8 p.m. ET at an apartment complex in Guaynabo, according to fire and public safety officials. There were no initial reports of injuries.

Puerto Rico officials continue to closely watch the island’s mountain regions, which have suffered landslides in the past and where the soil is saturated from the rain, Pierluisi said.

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Around 120 shelters with 25,000 cots have been opened for those in need, the governor said. Classes Monday have been canceled and government workers — save emergency workers — should stay home, too.

Forecast rainfall accumulations due to Tropical Storm Fiona.
A hurricane warning — indicating hurricane conditions are expected — was issued for Puerto Rico, including the islands of Vieques and Culebra, and later expanded to include the eastern Dominican Republic from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo.

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The Dominican Republic’s northern coast, from Cabo Frances Viejo west to Puerto Plata, were under a hurricane watch Sunday morning, meaning hurricane conditions are possible in the next 48 hours.

President Joe Biden on Sunday morning approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico, freeing up federal resources, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for emergency response and disaster relief efforts.

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The threat won’t end once the storm passes between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Further strengthening is expected, and the official forecast track indicates Fiona could be a major hurricane by Wednesday as it tracks to the east of the Bahamas and toward Bermuda.

“It appears likely that Fiona will become the first major hurricane of this Atlantic season in a few days,” the hurricane center said.

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Source: CNN

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ECOParl: MPs Say Covid-19, Russia-Ukraine War, Low Import Duties, Reason For Low Remittances of Community Levy

ECOWAS
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By Gloria Ikibah

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, have attributed the causes of low remittance of community levy by member states to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, low import inflow, the effect of Covid-19 on the global economy leading to recession among other factors.

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Speaking with Journalists at the ongoing 2nd Extra-Ordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Lome, a cross-section of Parliamentarians from different countries also blamed the development on negligence on the part of some member states.

The Ghanaian Head of Delegation, Hon. Alexander Afenyo Markin, asserted that the current economic downturn experienced across regions is a major deterrence to remittance of levies.

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“Without attempting to speculate, I should think that the recent downturn in business is a result of economic crisis leading to low import could be a factor, in the sense that now we are having this Ukraine- Russia war which came just after COVID obviously import have come down, it has reduced drastically, and this levies are imposed on import at our Ports so obviously.

“It could also be the slow pace at which member states transmit or transfer such levy as collected so we need that political will from the Commission, the Heads of States, or those responsible for this, and those coordinating to ensure that these levies as at when they are collected are transmitted to ECOWAS on time.

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While MP from Seirra-Leon, Hon. Veronica Sesay said the possible cause of countries non-remittance of levy was negligence.

“This could be out of negligence. We cannot move, we cannot succeed, even ECOWAS Parliament committees cannot come to Lome or go to Abuja without paying of levies, and that is why we are asking the other member states to pay their levies because it is sometimes unfair if others pay their levies on time then you benefit on time, so I don’t want to call it parasitic because we have to work together as a team”, she said.

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Hon. Adjaratou Traore from Cote d’Ivoire said, “without the community levy there will be no ECOWAS Parliament, there will be No ECOWAS Commission, every country need to contribute, we have to make sure our government take this issue very seriously to make the operation of the regional body smooth, so all Member States have to work hard on it”.

Similarly, Nigerian Delegate to the session, Sen. Smart Adeyemi said, “There is a global economic recession now, I think as the economy improves maybe next year, some of these West African Countries will be able to meet up their obligation to the ECOWAS Parliament”.

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Hon. Siryon from Liberia added “the pandemic came in and interrupted countries economic plans, I feel that is the reason why some of them have not been able to pay, no matter what, they have to pay, if they have problems, they have to come to us, they have to come and let ECOWAS know the problem, they put the Act together, they sign it and I believe that they will pay” she said.

The Parliamentarians furthermore called for mechanism to be put in place to fast track payment by making sure that such funds come to the Commissions by the use of technology.

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They also believe that, bureaucracy of collection and transmitting should be eliminated by creating a network which will automatically ensure that ECOWAS and other institutions receive their payment directly from the Member States once charges are made in their Ports. That according to them will be one way of resolving that issue of non-remittance of community levy.

“There will be no excuses as to what the Member States have collected and refused or delayed. It is these levies that are used for capacity building, for all activities, for stability and for work to progress, and also for salaries of workers, our community institutions depend on this levy, that is our only source of income and funding for our activities as a Sub-Region, for me, it is a key thing that must be considered”.

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North Korea fires two missiles, blames US

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North Korea fired two ballistic missiles Thursday and claimed its recent blitz of sanctions-busting tests were necessary countermeasures against joint military drills by the United States and South Korea.

As the United Nations Security Council met to discuss Pyongyang’s Tuesday launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan, North Korea blamed Washington for “escalating the military tensions on the Korean peninsula”.

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The recent launches — six in less than two weeks — were “the just counteraction measures of the Korean People’s Army”, Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said in a statement Thursday.

Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have ramped up joint military drills in recent weeks, including large-scale naval manoeuvres and anti-submarine exercises.

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No Amount Of Fasting, Prayer Can Cure HIV” – Bisi Alimi

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Bisi Alimi is of the belief that no amount of fasting or prayer can be able to heal an individual who is infected with the HIV virus.

Alimi is a Nigerian gay rights activist, public speaker, blog writer and HIV/LGBT advocate who gained international attention when he became the first Nigerian to come out on television.

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In a new development, Alimi who has been living well advised those living with the virus to live a happy life by thinking positively, exercising and taking their medications regularly.

He also urged people living with the virus not to listen to naysayers.

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“If you are HIV+, no amount of prayers and fasting will cure you. Take your medication, exercise, think positively and live a happy life. There is no healing in faith.

“Your viral load will only come down if you adhere and not by how days you pray or fast.

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“If your viral load is taking long to come down, talk to your healthcare provider about it and be very honest about the lifestyle choices you have.

“Don’t mind the idiots laughing cos you are positive; at least you know. Many of them hide under their clothes, their greatest shame. Turn their stigma into your crown of glory”.

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