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AstraZeneca – Pfizer mix may be an improvement

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2 vaxes
The two leading vaccines. Wikimedia photo © Arne Müseler.

COVID vaccines: combining AstraZeneca and Pfizer may boost immunity – new study

by Tracy Hussell, University of Manchester

Late last year, I asked: is it safe to have more than one type of COVID-19 vaccine? A trial has now addressed that question, as well as what effect combining different vaccine types has on immunity.

Most COVID-19 vaccines require two doses, and the usual strategy is to give people the same vaccine type for both. But the Com-Cov study, led by the University of Oxford, recruited over 800 participants from across the UK to investigate the effects of giving people different vaccines for their first and second jabs. Two vaccines were studied: those made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

So, is mix and match an option? The trial’s results are preliminary, having yet to be reviewed by other scientists, but the answer appears to be yes. Giving people different types of COVID-19 vaccine appears not only to be safe, but also a potential way of boosting protection against the coronavirus.

However, the exact benefits depend on which vaccine goes first and which second. Taking the AstraZeneca vaccine followed by the Pfizer one resulted in a striking increase in antibodies against the coronavirus’s spike protein (a key part of its outer structure) compared to using the AstraZeneca vaccine for both doses or Pfizer followed by AstraZeneca.

Taking the AstraZeneca vaccine followed by Pfizer resulted in a better T cell response than all other combinations of doses. T cells – also known as T lymphocytes – are immune cells that help kill invading germs (such as the coronavirus) and support antibody production.

The Com-Cov study will next look at whether mixing and matching doses like this provides as good results when a larger gap is left between doses. The time between doses in this initial trial was 28 days, but a parallel study is stretching this to 84 days. The results are yet to be reported.

An expected outcome?

Other researchers have also been studying mixing vaccine types to fight COVID-19. A Spanish study recently reported that people who initially received the AstraZeneca vaccine experienced a massive increase to their antiviral immunity when given a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine – providing more evidence that Pfizer works well as a booster.

A illustration of adenovirus particlesThe body may mount an immune response against vaccines themselves – particularly those that use adenoviruses for delivery. Graphic by  Christoph Burgstedt/Shutterstock

To understand why these beneficial effects might be happening, it’s important to understand how the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines work. Both present a key element of the coronavirus – again, the spike protein – to the immune system, but do so using different methods.

The Pfizer approach packs the genetic code for the coronavirus’s spike protein into fatty nanoparticles. When these particles enter the body’s cells, the code is read and copies of the spike protein are produced, leading to an immune response. The AstraZeneca vaccine delivers the same genetic code but uses a weakened form of a common cold virus (an adenovirus) from chimpanzees to carry the code into cells.

When the first vaccine doses are given, it is possible that an immune response is raised not just against the spike protein created, but also against the carriers that are used to deliver the code for it. This is a known issue for treatments or vaccines that use viruses for delivery. If the second dose is then the same, the immunity developed against the carrier will react against the second dose, clearing some of it before robust, protective and long-lasting immunity develops.

This is why Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine – which is based on the same delivery method as the AstraZeneca vaccine – uses two different adenoviruses as carriers for its first and second doses, and has achieved impressive results.

Why mixing doses is so important

There are additional benefits to mixing vaccine doses on top of improving protection. Logistical problems can arise when a second vaccine dose has to be identical to the first. Producing double the quantity of one vaccine takes time. Boosting with a different vaccine could allow the world’s population to be vaccinated quicker.

Vials of COVID vaccines from AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson
Next we need to see what happens when mixing COVID-19 vaccines from other manufacturers. Photo by Miguel Toro/Shutterstock

Second, if a person reacts badly to their first vaccination, they are more likely to get a second dose if they know it is a different one – and it’s clear that two are needed for good protection. Governments may also decide a certain type of vaccine is less suitable for different groups of people, as has been the case with the AstraZeneca vaccine in younger people in some countries. Having more potential vaccine combinations available may help overcome any public uncertainty in the wake of these sorts of decisions.

Supplying vaccines to some low- and middle-income countries can also be difficult, particularly if they do not have the necessary cold storage requirements for large batches of a vaccine that need to be kept at low temperatures. Including vaccines into the distribution plan that do not need storage at very low temperatures may make widespread vaccine delivery easier.

So there are clearly huge benefits to vaccine mixing. However, this study only looked at two vaccine types – in time, every combination will need to be tested, in every age group and in every ethnicity. Vaccines may also behave differently if mixed in different contexts, for example, against a backdrop of malnutrition or other infectious diseases. These factors will need to be included in future testing too. But for now, this study suggests that a mix-and-match approach to COVID-19 vaccines is an acceptable, useful option.The Conversation

Tracy Hussell, Professor of Inflammatory Disease, University of Manchester

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

 

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Amnistía Internacional, La represión en Nicaragua

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do
Una valla publicitaria de campaña desfigurada. Foto por Grace Gonzalez – Amnistía Internacional. 

Nicaragua: La estrategia represiva en el contexto prelectoral continúa implacable

por Amnistía Internacional

En el contexto de las recientes detenciones de al menos cinco personas, entre ellos un aspirante a la presidencia, líderes estudiantiles y representantes campesinos, así como el continuo acoso que sufren personas defensoras de derechos humanos, periodistas y medios de comunicación independientes, Erika Guevara Rosas, directora para las Américas de Amnistía Internacional, dijo:

“A pesar de los llamados de la comunidad internacional, la nueva oleada de detenciones de voces disidentes no se detiene. El gobierno de Daniel Ortega no solo no escucha a la comunidad internacional, sino que la desafía violando más derechos humanos”

“En las últimas semanas un nuevo grupo de detenciones de activistas políticos y aspirantes presidenciales ha conmocionado al mundo, estas se suman a las más de 100 personas que continúan tras las rejas solo por ejercer sus derechos. La lista de personas detenidas injustamente se incrementa diariamente sin que el gobierno de una sola señal de detener la represión”.

“Hasta ahora, y a pesar de las solicitudes de las familias de las personas detenidas en las últimas semanas, las autoridades siguen manteniéndoles en incomunicación, sin que sus familiares y representantes legales puedan verlas y verificar su estado y lugar de detención. Existen razones suficientes para temer por su integridad personal y sus vidas”.

“La comunidad internacional no debe descansar en sus esfuerzos para lograr el cese a la represión. Una respuesta más enérgica y articulada es indispensable. Este momento crítico merece que todos los esfuerzos se encaminen a conseguir que en Nicaragua los derechos humanos sean una realidad”.

 

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Kermit’s birds / Las aves de Kermit

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boid
Thick-billed Seed-Finch ~ Semillero piquigrueso ~ Sporophila funerea. Encontrado en Gamboa, provincia de Colón, Panamá.

Thick-billed Seed-Finch
Semillero piquigrueso

foto © Kermit Nourse

This species is of the Thraupidae family, but was until recently placed in Emberizidae. It is found in shrubby and grassy areas from southern Mexico, through Central America and Panama, to the Pacific littoral in Colombia and into Ecuador. Its large viselike beak is used to open seeds. The one pictured above is a female — the male is all black.

 

Esta especie es de la familia Thraupidae, pero hasta hace poco se encontraba en Emberizidae. Se encuentra en áreas arbustivas y herbáceas desde el sur de México, a través de América Central y Panamá, hasta el litoral del Pacífico en Colombia y en Ecuador. Su pico grande, parecido a una visera, se usa para abrir semillas. El de la foto de arriba es una hembra, el macho es todo negro.

  

 

 

 

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Free Assange campaign: More evidence of US prosecutorial misconduct

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JA
Assange picked out from the crowd. MaxPixel graphic. The Wikileaks founder’s family attended a rally in London to mark Assange’s birthday — his third behind bars at Belmarsh Prison.

Assange supporters demand release amid key DOJ witness’s admission that testimony was fabricated

by Julia Conley — Common Dreams

The family of Julian Assange was joined by supporters on Saturday in Parliament Square, London, where they marked Assange’s 50th birthday — the third he’s spent in the city’s Belmarsh Prison as he awaits possible extradition to the United States — and to demand his release days after a key witness in the case against him admitted his testimony was false.

Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, was in attendance with the couple’s young children at the gathering, which took place two days after Assange’s father and brother wrapped up a tour of the United States aimed at building pressure on President Joe Biden to drop all charges against him under the Espionage Act.

“Democracies do not imprison journalists. Julian is a political prisoner,” Moris told the supporters in Parliament Square. “He’s a prisoner of conscience. He’s in prison because he acted according to his conscience, exposing the powerful and defending the weak and the powerless.”

The rally came a week after a key witness in the US government’s case against Assange, Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, “admitted that his entire testimony is false” in an article in the Icelandic news outlet Stundin.

“The article details how Thordarson, a convicted felon, pedophile, and diagnosed sociopath, used his position to steal money from Wikileaks, and received immunity from prosecution from the FBI in a quid pro quo,” FAIR reported, noting the new information received virtually no coverage from the corporate media.

Jennifer Robinson, a legal adviser to Assange, appeared on Democracy Now! earlier this week to discuss the development, calling Thordarson’s admission “just the latest revelation to demonstrate why the US case should be dropped.”

Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Amnesty International, and press freedom organization PEN International were among those joining the calls for Assange’s freedom on social media on Saturday.

Veteran journalist John Pilger, who also attended the rally in Parliament Square, condemned the international press for its silence on the most recent development in the Assange case, which he said indicates that “the case against Assange has collapsed.”

“We celebrated Julian as a rare, true democrat,” Pilger said. “Don’t let America get its hands on him.”

 

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Jackson, Another 4th of July in Plague Times Panama

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founders
July 4, 1776 — an 1817 painting by John Trumbull, which now is displayed in the US Capitol. Photo by Peter Roan. The “Guess who the majority of Americans who weren’t there?” question is an important one for anyone learning US history, but to dwell on that to the exclusion of great things that some of these flawed men did in their lifetimes would be to fundamentally misunderstand the ebbs and flows of historical forces. This happened for a variety of reasons. These were leaders of a nation defending its interests, not saints chiseling principles for all nations into immutable stone for all time. That said, some of their reasons gained widespread recognition that lives on in many people of many nations to this day.

Post-colonial — if only we can
get past the old mentalities

by Eric Jackson

I was in the city yesterday and on the way back had occasion to ride a bus through a traffic jam on part of Avenida de los Martires. Awful as it was, better to ride past the scene of an even worse horror for Panama, that part of El Chorrillo where so many innocents died in the 1989 bombardment, than if the street were still known by its old Canal Zone name, Fourth of July Avenue. Panama is formally decolonized now and that’s a good thing. Which is not to say that all developments since then are good, or that all attitudes, tastes, public works and cultural understandings acquired from the Americans are bad.

People need to discern the positive from the negative, and consider that there are things that are mixed. Perhaps the hardest of all things to sort out are those embedded in people’s minds. It’s homework that everybody of every nation and ethnicity needs to do, maybe with guidance but something that people of worth must do for themselves. Gringos must think long and hard about projections of US power. Panameños must think long and hard about the heavy prices paid for letting the United States solve Panama’s issues.

          Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery.
          None but ourselves can free our minds.

Bob Marley                 

Panama freed the slaves in 1851, effective 1853. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, with the last slaves formally freed on Juneteenth, 1865 and the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments following shortly thereafter. The founders of the United States, and of the Gran Colombia of which Panama was a part, were mostly aware of the evils of slavery. Jefferson et al and Bolívar et al met resistance, figured that slavery was unsustainable in light of economic forces then at play anyway, and avoided pressing the point and risking splits in the movements for independence from European powers. They left terrible reckonings for later generations. The badges and mentalities of slavery survive in many forms to this day.

This old history major looks at the Fourth of July as major milestone, for all of its ambiguities a great act of courage that transformed the world.

Also, stripping away the slogans they teach in US grade schools in order to see more clearly, it was an act of economic defiance. Great Britain treated its American colonies as a dumping ground for petty criminals and that rebellious element whom they didn’t care to hang. They wanted timber and pitch for British commercial and sea power.  The Americans wanted to use those resources for an American shipbuilding industry and American commerce that could trade independently of dibs called in London. The British wanted Americans to drink expensive tea brought on British ships from British colonies in Asia, but the Americans developed a habit of drinking coffee from Latin America, smuggled in without any British intermediaries. Moreover, the Americans rebelled because they wanted their own business deals with China, for tea and many other things.

The Americans wanted to move the pale of settlement westward, but the British didn’t want to pay for that. Of course, the indigenous nations to the west rightfully feared that prospect for their own reasons. 

I have all these dogs and cats in my life, so of course I’m not into the fireworks that hurt their ears, not on Gringo holidays, nor on Pana holidays. Born in Colon to American parents, I am a dual citizen by birth, with high regards and terrible concerns for each of my countries.

Fourth of July is a US holiday, one that should not be waved in the faces of Panamanian neighbors. The only flag flying at my house — inside — is a little Panamanian one. This is Panama. But in my low-key way, it’s a day to rejoice in the triumph of Jefferson, Franklin and the rest. Not an act of God, not the issuance of holy scripture from on high, but a mighty act of flawed men who rose to the occasion. The US Declaration of Independence reverberates down through the centuries, as well it should. 

Take pride, all Americans in the narrow sense of the term, but without conceit. Also, taking an honest look around us, be concerned, but without the hysteria. And if someone of neither the nationality nor the ethnicity wants to know what’s special about this day, impart but do not impose your narrative. There is no need for bluster. It speaks for itself.

 

The editor is an old hippie antiwar protester whose father is buried at Arlington, who as a public official has taken and honored oaths to uphold the US Constitution and stands ready with neighbors and friends to defend Panama. If that sounds too contradictory use this day to reflect upon life’s complexities.

 

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¿Wappin? You may have to be an old buzzard to know all these…

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reaaawk

… Pero a algunos de ustedes más jóvenes les puede gustar

ELO – Poorboy
https://youtu.be/vB1R3peoTkw

Of Monsters and Men – Visitor
https://youtu.be/Bq1lpEC70Hg

Combos Nacionales – Deambulando
https://youtu.be/lKYYEhtpKfc

Shangri-Las – Leader of the Pack
https://youtu.be/Q8UKf65NOzM

The Tubes – Don’t Touch Me There
https://youtu.be/KyQnIUq5xzQ

Harry the Hipster – Zoot Gibson Strides Again
https://youtu.be/AOseMl5o7FU

Valerie Wellington – Bad Avenue
https://youtu.be/xu79m18hUS4

Sister Aisha – Guide and Protect
https://youtu.be/RER54uxuoS0

Solomon Burke – Cry To Me
https://youtu.be/mEu8DrO9PbY

Mary Wells – My Guy
https://youtu.be/r1M5eEJeT38

Rauw Alejandro – Todo de Ti
https://youtu.be/CFPLIaMpGrY

Yusuf Islam – Where Do The Children Play?
https://youtu.be/PiiZrZTrOFY

Peter Tosh – Mystic Man
https://youtu.be/yNPoRSwQdmE

Séptima Raíz – Calmas Mi Ansiedad
https://youtu.be/pbd8lc38EBU

Enrique Bunbury – Concierto Básico 40 Opel Corsa
https://youtu.be/t5A-lV8bU1k

 

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Convergencia Sindical, ¡Huelga exitosa!

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dairy workers
1
 

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A day of protest as the president speaks

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Airport workers
The much-reduced base of those whom the president consults includes the Chamber of Commerce, which advocates tourism as the lead industry for the recovery from an epidemic that’s not yet over. The federated airport workers’ unions look askance at both Nito and the people to whom he listens. 

Most people stay home, but the discontent is palpable on the streets

by Eric Jackson, photos gleaned from Twitter posts

There were few surprises at the Justo Arosemena Legislative Palace as President Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo Cohen reported at the start of a new legislative session about what he did in his first two years and what he hopes to do in the next year. It was a speech designed to incite sleep, not passions.

However, a couple of days before his labor minister purported to decree the end of a private sector strike and require binding arbitration. It was quite the favor to the now Honduran-owned Estrella Azul dairy products company as the ranchers seek other buyers for their milk. It was also a pretty clear violation of the legal right to strike in the private sector, thus an impetus to the fractious Panamanian labor movement to set aside differences and rise to the occasion. Many different groups with different causes and often overlapping bases of supporters showed up to protest — not only at the legislature but elsewhere around the capital city and the country — when Nito spoke.

 

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Is our maritime sector crucial to the Panamanian economy? Canal workers legally can’t strike, but some off-duty ones were at the demonstraations.. And this port workers’ union also marched.

 

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The largest and arguably the most militant of Panama’s unions, the construction workers’ SUNTRACS, showed up at the National Assembly in force, but as this was a work day, also elsewhere.

 

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In the foreground a campus activist is interviewed.
In the background you can see the Coca-Cola workers’ union.

 

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Various labor unions gather.

 

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Environmentalists were there, as part of a percolating battle over control of Panama’s water supply.

 

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The CGTP labor federation, opposing privatization of Social Security.

 

the riot squad
The heat. In case of a rumble out front of the legislature, their job is to keep people from escaping into the Metro subway.

 

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Entertainer, journalist and activist Gaby Gnazzo, there for the cause.

 

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Construction workers who couldn’t make it to the legislature blocked traffic around the city.

 

whirlypigs
Is that Big Bro watching from on high?

 

Libs
Panama’s chapter of the international anti-corruption group Transparency International issued a scathing report for the occasion. This was its cover.

 

Bocas
There were protests in Bocas del Toro…

 

Cocle
…and in Cocle…

 

Veraguas
…and in Veraguas…

 

JDV
…AND in the legislative chamber where Cortizo spoke! Independent deputy Juan Diego Vásquez, who sits right up front, put this sign on his desk.

 

 

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“Reaching across the aisle” to privatize US water systems?

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EMU
Forever the subject of ribald art by students at the adjacent Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti’s historic 1893 water tower, still in use, would become an entirely different sort of symbol in case of a bipartisan Washington deal to privatize it or the Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority. Wikimedia photo by Cmadler.

200+ groups to Congress: ‘No water privatization’ in any infrastructure deal

by Jessica Corbett — Common Dreams

In a letter to congressional leaders on Thursday, 218 organizations urged against water privatization “in all its forms” and called on federal lawmakers to enact a “bold, uncompromising infrastructure package.”

The letter (pdf), sent to top Democrats and Republicans, was organized by Food & Water Watch, which has repeatedly criticized privatization provisions that the White House and members of Congress are considering for a bipartisan infrastructure deal that Democrats plan to pass alongside a broader reconciliation package.

“The U.S. is long overdue for bold federal investment in our public water systems—but the proposal on the table will not get us there,” said Neil Gupta, associate research director at letter signatory Corporate Accountability.

The bipartisan infrastructure framework announced last week by President Joe Biden and centrist lawmakers, Gupta explained, “promotes privatization schemes dressed up as ‘public-private partnerships’ and ‘asset recycling,’ which create dangerous, avoidable problems and ignore people’s needs.”

“Water privatization has failed communities across the country and must be rejected in all its forms,” Gupta continued. “We need an infrastructure plan that directly invests federal dollars in communities, keeps water systems in public hands, and equitably addresses our nation’s infrastructure crisis for the long haul—not more corporate handouts.”

As Food & Water Watch Public Water for All director Mary Grant put it: “This White House-approved infrastructure deal would lead to communities handing over public infrastructure to Wall Street profiteers.”

The letter outlines key arguments against water privatization, including that it:

    • Is an incredibly expensive financing option;
    • Will lead to rate hikes on households already struggling to afford their water bills;
    • Is not a viable or just solution for rural, small, or disadvantaged communities;
    • Can trap communities in expensive deals; and
    • Is not a solution for our nation’s water needs.

“Water privatization can increase costs, worsen service quality and allow infrastructure assets to deteriorate,” the letter says. “There is ample evidence that maintenance backlogs, wasted water, sewage spills, and worse service often follow privatization.”

“In fact, poor performance is the primary reason that local governments reverse the decision to privatize and resume public operation of previously contracted services,” the letter adds.

The groups also argue that “communities need real federal dollars spent on drinking water and wastewater infrastructure,” making a case for the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity, and Reliability (WATER) Act of 2021.

The WATER Act—reintroduced in February by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Democratic Reps. Brenda L. Lawrence (Mich.) and Ro Khanna (Calif.)—would provide nearly $35 billion a year to drinking water and wastewater improvements, among other provisions.

Grant echoed that message from the letter, saying that “communities need real support, like the WATER Act, not sneaky privatization scams.”

Flint Rising executive director Nayyirah Shariff knows just how badly investments in the nation’s water infrastructure are needed; her city in Michigan is infamous around the world for its drinking water issues and resulting impacts on public health.

“Our water systems are struggling because the federal government has chosen to divest from water infrastructure,” said Shariff, whose group also endorsed the letter.

“We have a funding issue,” she added. “Privatization is not the answer because it will contribute to unaffordable drinking and wastewater bills. We need bold investment that includes grants for our water utilities, like the WATER Act.”

Other signatories include the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, In the Public Interest, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Public Citizen and dozens of additional national groups as well as state organizations from Maine to Alabama to Hawaii to Alaska, and beyond.

Donald Cohen, executive director of In the Public Interest, pointed out that “every public dollar that ends up in the pockets of water corporations and investors is one less dollar we can use to fix America’s crumbling water infrastructure.”

The “no water privatization” letter concludes with a clear message to lawmakers: “We urge you to reject this proposed water privatization scam and fight for a bold package that provides the support our communities need. Do not compromise on water.”

The letter came in the midst of several days of action on Capitol Hill pushing for bold climate provisions and other progressive priorities for infrastructure legislation.

It was also sent to lawmakers as House Democrats, joined by just two Republicans, passed a water and transportation infrastructure bill called the INVEST in America Act, which calls for putting $117 billion toward drinking water infrastructure and assistance.

As Common Dreams reported earlier Thursday, Grant of Food & Water said the House measure “offers a bolder response than the Senate’s water bill,” but “the funding levels for water improvements are still not enough.”

Grant urged Congress to “seize the opportunity provided by ongoing infrastructure negotiations and ensure the critical, transformative water funding the country really needs.”

 

 

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Cortizo, Informe de los dos años del gobierno

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The five pillars of the government’s recovery strategy

from President Cortizo’s Twitter feed

Our government’s strategy for economic reactivation is based on five areas:

1. Make a safe, effective and well-planned vaccination strategy available to the population.

2. Support micro, small and medium enterprises, important generators of jobs.

3. Reactivate public infrastructure projects, as generators of labor.

4. Preserve the capacity of the financial sector and other vulnerable sectors of the economy.

5. Stimulate the attraction of good direct foreign investment.

 

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