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CARICOM Foreign Ministers hold two-day strategic meeting

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana – The CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) held a Special Meeting on 16-17 2021, hosted by the Consul General of Jamaica in Miami, Florida, USA. It was the first in-person meeting of the COFCOR since the onset of the COVID 19 Pandemic in January 2020, bringing together Ministers who had assumed office over the past eighteen months and their colleagues.

The Meeting was strategic in intent and provided the opportunity to define common positions and to thereby strengthen the coordination of approaches on foreign policy matters. Views were expressed on a CARICOM Vision 2050 and Strategic Positioning of the Community in that regard. Threats and opportunities were outlined and discussions centered on the web of relations with international partners, Third States, as well as regional and international organisations which would help to shape a strategic foreign policy agenda for the Community.
 

The Meeting’s agenda also included the multifaceted effects of COVID 19 including inequitable access to vaccines and the emerging two-tiered system of vaccine approval related to international travel, as well as the barriers to access to concessional financing and other obstacles to economic recovery. Attention was paid to bilateral and multilateral relations within the Western Hemisphere, as well as to concerns arising from areas of political instability in the wider Caribbean region. Discussions on the Community’s relations with regional and hemispheric organisations was also undertaken with a view to strengthening that interface.

The situation in Haiti was discussed and possible modes of intervention by CARICOM to assist a Haiti-driven solution were explored.
  Deliberations also took place with regard to extra-regional partnerships with focus being placed on the recent strengthening of relations with Africa and the required follow-up to the first Summit last month. Relations with the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the Commonwealth were also discussed.  With regard to the latter where the issue of the renewal of the term of office of the Secretary-General remains pending, the Council reiterated its stance that the incumbent, Baroness Scotland, enjoys the broad support of the Community.  

TWENTY-FOURTH MEETING OF THE COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS (COFCOR) VIRTUAL
6-7 MAY 2021

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     The Twenty-Fourth Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) was held virtually on the 6-7 May 2021, under the Chairmanship of the Honourable Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belize.
 
The COFCOR was attended by Honourable E. P. Chet Greene, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Trade of Antigua and Barbuda; Senator Dr. the Honourable Jerome Walcott, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados; Honourable Dr. Kenneth Darroux, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Business and Diaspora Relations of the Commonwealth of Dominica; Honourable Oliver Joseph, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and CARICOM Affairs of Grenada; Honourable Hugh Todd, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Guyana; His Excellency Dr. Claude Joseph, Prime Minister a.i. and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of the Republic of Haiti; Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson-Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica; Honourable Mark A.G. Brantley, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis; His Excellency Albert Ramdin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation of the Republic of Suriname; and Senator the Honourable Dr. Amery Browne, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
 
His Excellency Reuben Rahming, Ambassador to The Bahamas to CARICOM, represented The Bahamas; Her Excellency Elma Gene Isaac, Ambassador to CARICOM to Saint Lucia, represented Saint Lucia; and His Excellency Allan Alexander, Ambassador of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to CARICOM represented St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
 
OPENING CEREMONY
 
Remarks were delivered by Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community, His Excellency Dr. Claude Joseph, Prime Minister a.i and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of the Republic of Haiti, outgoing Chair of the COFCOR, and the Honourable Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration of Belize, the Chair of the COFCOR.
(The statements are available at www.caricom.org)
 
COORDINATION OF FOREIGN POLICY
 
CARICOM Foreign Minister re-emphasised the importance for the Region to speak with one voice through the coordination of foreign policy, and the need to find new and more effective ways to strengthen the existing coordination mechanisms while recognising the sovereign right of Member States. It was noted that there continues to be successful coordination but the increasing complexity of international issues requires that it be enhanced.  In that regard, the COFCOR agreed to increase the frequency of its meetings. This would enable Ministers to address in a timely fashion new developments and challenges facing the Community and to shape Community responses and policies.
 
CANDIDATURES
 
The COFCOR reiterated the importance of CARICOM’s effective participation in international fora, including through the pursuit of increased CARICOM representation in relevant organisations.  In this regard, Foreign Ministers considered and endorsed a number of CARICOM candidatures to the United Nations (UN), the Organisation of American States (OAS) and other international and regional organisations. They also deliberated on the requests from Third Countries for CARICOM’s endorsement of their candidates to multilateral bodies.

BILATERAL RELATIONS
 
The COFCOR noted the progress made in the strengthening of relations with a number of Third States and groups of states since its last Meeting.  In so doing, it reaffirmed the importance of CARICOM’s relations with its traditional partners and the need to continue to expand the Community’s outreach to other regions and so develop its relations with non-traditional partners and groupings.

The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing its public health and economic effects, in particular the need for equitable access to vaccines and to economic recovery financing, were among the Community’s priority concerns discussed and for which assistance was sought.

Ministers discussed relations the African Union. They reaffirmed their readiness for a CARICOM-AU Summit as soon as practicable.

The COFCOR expressed its continued concern that the US embargo against Cuba has a significant adverse impact on the socio-economic development of Cuba and the well-being of the Cuban People.  Foreign Ministers reiterated CARICOM’s support for the termination of the long-standing US economic, financial and commercial embargo against Cuba and agreed to continue to advocate in this regard.

MULTILATERAL AND HEMISPHERIC RELATIONS

United Nations (UN)
 
The COFCOR noted the developments regarding pursuit of the Financing for Development (FfD) agenda and the challenges associated with expanding public health expenditures while applying fiscal containment measures in line with the economic downturn arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Foreign Ministers commended the Honourable Prime Minister of Jamaica who joined with the Prime Minister of Canada and the UN Secretary-General to launch an initiative that has resulted in a menu of over 250 policy options to address Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and beyond.   

The COFCOR agreed on the need for global solutions to the various challenges facing Small Island and Low-Lying Coastal Developing States, particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The COFCOR also agreed that the Community should continue to prioritise the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway in a robust manner, including the launch of a strong COVID-19 economic recovery related appeal to the international community and, in particular the G20, asking for the expansion and extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). The COFCOR encouraged the consideration of innovative debt relief measures such as debt swaps, debt buybacks, and State Contingent Debt Instruments to ease the economic fallout of the pandemic.
 They also agreed to continue to advocate against –

  1. the designation of CARICOM Member States as high-risk territories thereby resulting in the ongoing loss of correspondent banking relationships (CBRs); and
  • the unilateral actions to blacklist some Member States as non-cooperative tax jurisdictions.

The COFCOR welcomed the convening of a Food Systems Summit as part of the Decade of Action to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) being hosted by the UN Secretary-General in October 2021 and encouraged the highest level of participation from Member States.

The COFCOR agreed to continue to advance a common regional position, at the fourth and final Inter-Governmental Conference for the development of an Internationally Legally Binding Instrument on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity Beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) scheduled for 16-27 August 2021.

Organisation of American States (OAS)

The COFCOR received an update on the issues of strategic importance to the Caribbean Community before the Organisation of American States (OAS). Foreign Ministers welcomed the CARICOM Framework Strategy entitled Vulnerability to Resilience put in place by the OAS Secretary-General with the assistance of the CARICOM Caucus. Ministers expressed concern over the limited resources allocated to areas identified as priority to CARICOM and agreed that every effort should be made to ensure that adequate resources are allotted to these areas. Foreign Ministers agreed to raise this matter at the Fifty-First OAS General Assembly, scheduled to be hosted this year by Guatemala. They also reiterated their commitment to the work of the hemispheric body. The COFCOR commended the work of the CARICOM Caucus in Washington D.C.

Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)
The COFCOR reviewed a synopsis of the 2021 Work Programme of the CELAC PPT Mexico and commended the PPT Mexico and CELAC for advancing priorities related to recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and economic fronts.

Association of Caribbean States (ACS)
The Council welcomed the assumption to the office of His Excellency Rodolfo Sabonge as the new Secretary-General of the ACS and agreed that CARICOM Member States should continue to act strategically within the Association.
Foreign Ministers commended the coordination efforts in the Greater Caribbean in response to the pandemic.

CLIMATE CHANGE
The COFCOR agreed that COP26 should be the COP of Ambitious Action and that it must result in greater speed in scaling up climate finance flows to SIDS via the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) finance mechanisms, the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund. Foreign Ministers also reiterated their support to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda as Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

In preparation for COP26, the COFCOR emphasised the need for the Member States to engage in wide-ranging consultation with stakeholders at the national and regional levels.

BORDER ISSUES
Belize-Guatemala Dispute
The COFCOR received an update on developments between Belize and Guatemala, including in respect of the case, arising from Guatemala’s territorial, insular and maritime claim, that is now before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for final and definitive resolution, in accordance with the Special Agreement to Submit Guatemala’s Claim to the ICJ.

The COFCOR urged Belize, Guatemala and the OAS to respect and implement fully the Confidence Building Measures as agreed under their Framework Agreement of 2005, pending a resolution of the case before the ICJ. They further urged both countries and the OAS to reinvigorate their efforts to engage in the design and development of a mechanism of cooperation for the Sarstoon River, which remains outstanding.

The COFCOR recognises and supports the OAS’ crucial role in the process aimed at resolving the dispute, arising from Guatemala’s claims on Belize, and called on the international community to continue supporting the OAS Office in the Adjacency Zone.

The COFCOR reaffirmed its unwavering support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of Belize.

Guyana-Venezuela Controversy
Foreign Ministers received an update on the most recent developments in the controversy between the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. They noted that Guyana had begun to prepare its Memorial for submission on 8 March 2022 in accordance with the schedule set by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to hear the case on the merits of Guyana’s application concerning the validity of the Arbitral Award of 1899 and the related question of the definitive settlement of the land boundary between the two countries.

Foreign Ministers reiterated the expression by CARICOM Heads of Government of the Community’s full support for the ongoing judicial process that is intended to bring a peaceful and definitive end to the long-standing controversy between the two countries and urged Venezuela to participate in the process.

Foreign Ministers remained very concerned about the threatening posture of Venezuela and reaffirmed their consistent support for the maintenance and preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana.

ADVANCNG REGIONAL PRIORITIES: CARICOM AGRI-FOOD AGENDA
The COFCOR affirmed the strategy adopted at the Thirty-Second Inter-sessional Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government (February 2021) for the advancement of the CARICOM Agri-Food Systems Agenda with priority attention to regional food and nutrition security. Ministers agreed to include the Agenda among the priority issues for engagement with relevant partners and in international fora, including the UN Food Systems Summit and the Summit of the Americas.

UNCTAD XV
The COFCOR received a report from Barbados on preparations for UNCTAD XV and noted that the Conference, which was scheduled to be held in Barbados in 2020, will now be held virtually on 3 October 2021.

Foreign Ministers commended Barbados for its continuing efforts to convene this important Conference and affirmed their commitment to work collectively with Barbados in ensuring that CARICOM SIDS specific issues are reflected in the outcome of UNCTAD XV.

Posted in CARICOM, Columns, COVID-19, Crime, Energy, Environment, General, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

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Make Mental Health Care A Reality

RELEASE

Make Mental Health Care A Reality

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  11 October 2021.  The rising prevalence of mental health conditions in the Caribbean Region is a serious public health concern[1], and as COVID-19 continues to affect persons across the Region, there is need for urgent action to promote good mental health. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as a “state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.[2]

World Mental Health Day, observed annually on 10 October, seeks to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health.  This year’s theme  Mental Health in an Unequal World with the slogan “Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality”, is an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people.

“Lives have changed considerably due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as we are faced with the realities of unemployment, working from home, closure of schools, and not being able to socialise as we used to.  Over the past year the pandemic has had a major impact on people’s mental health especially healthcare and other frontline workers, children, women, families, homeless, people living alone, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions,” stated Dr. Tamu Davidson, Head of Chronic Diseases and Injury at CARPHA.  

In the Americas, depression continues to be the leading mental health disorder, and is twice as frequent in women as in men.[3]  Mental and neurological disorders in the elderly, such as Alzheimer’s disease, other dementias, and depression, contribute to the burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).  Mental disorders can also contribute to unintentional and intentional injury. Patients who are depressed are less likely to take their medicines, and persons with chronic NCDs and disabilities are more likely to be depressed.

Many mental health conditions can be effectively treated at relatively low cost, yet the gap between people needing care and those with access to care remains substantial.   A 2020 survey conducted by the WHO indicated that services for mental, neurological and substance use disorders had been significantly disrupted during the pandemic.[4]

CA RPHA supports its Member States through health promotion with a focus on increasing awareness about mental health and strategies to cope with mental illness, targeting the general population, children and adolescents, the elderly, women and other vulnerable populations.   Emphasis has been placed on prevention, psychosocial support and coping with mental illness during the COVID-19 pandemic.  This year, CARPHA included mental health as a focus of the annual Caribbean Wellness Day.  The Agency collaborates with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, Health Caribbean Coalition to increase awareness about mental health and reduce stigma.

Achieving mental health care a reality for all, calls for a whole of society approach.  Civil society, faith-based organisations, and private sector, and community-based organisations can support and promote mental well-being and prevent mental and substance-related disorders. 

  • Health professionals are reminded of their duty of care to all persons, whether they have physical and/or mental issues.  
  • Governments are urged to ensure equitable access to mental health services for all who need it. 
  • Civil society organisations are encouraged to support for public education and awareness about mental illness. 
  • The private sector can provide support for mental health services in employment packages and ensure that workplace policies do not discriminate against persons with mental illness. 

Most of all, we as individuals need to take time for ourselves.  We need to practice healthy living to preserve mental well-being. That includes self-care, healthy eating, physical activity, positive thinking, practicing mindfulness, connecting with friends, family or pets, and mindfulness, or taking time to do something we enjoy. 

There is no health without mental health[5]. This public health day is an opportunity to empower people to look after their own mental health and provide support to others. 

Let’s reach out and support someone with a mental illness .. make it a reality

###


[1] https://carpha.org/What-We-Do/NCD/Mental-Health-and-Substance-Use/Mental-Health

[2] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response

[3] https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/promotion-prevention/gender-and-women-s-mental-health

[4] https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day/2021/about

[5] WHO

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Vaccine mandate in Montserrat! Really?

As you read the article in this re-post which may be longer than its norm, but necessary because of what it portrays or inform, and previously posted, would you think for a bit:

We first brought this pandemic information to you in January, followed in February along with warnings and advice on how to prevent the ‘virus’ from reaching Montserrat. We at the same time presented early (WHO, etc.) safety and protected measures.

The Montserrat authorities by mid-March 2020, corruptly ignored these messages and reportedly pretended that this was just a passing situation. What followed came what turned out to be the extreme of at best of times poorly handled ‘protocols’ and late avoidance (‘safety’ measures which otherwise carefully or sensibly thought out could have made Montserrat, ‘COVID-19 free’ thru June – September.

What we would like to present here is how many of the persons tested as positive from mid-March were in fact confirmed to be a case; a report of the treatment given on the numbers of those who showed symptoms; the number of those who eventually after being sent home to isolate, ended up (“for treatment”) at the hospital, and what treatment was administered.

We have been dutifully shown the various charts of positives, etc. and recoveries, etc., but we really do not know the numbers of those positives were really COVID-19. (See other articles on this matter)

We would like to know, (a report be issued) issued on how many people died between February and present. The number of those persons who received the ‘COVID-19 vaccine’! And whether any of those persons had tested positive previously or after receiving the vaccine.

 So now, we come to the vaccine and the corrupt efforts to have sick and well, immune or building immunity to the virus, after instilling fear to access it. On the way, we are told by the authorities instructively that the vaccinated does not guarantee inability to contract and transmit the virus to anyone. (Hence the rush to advise the vaccinated to continue wearing masks and observe all safety all protocols). That under the guise of course of further protecting themselves from contracting from the unvaccinated, rather then transmitting it.

(In very simple terms) Roughly our understanding is that the vaccine contains the virus that allows the body to build “resistance” against the virus. The result is that you can get reactions like COVID-19 symptoms and you can get sick (but not seriously, also adverse events, such as dying). The claim is that this happens to an “acceptable” percentage of people because the risk for this outweighs the benefits.

Why should that not be left to every individual to choose? Instead, it is mandated – that MUST be WRONG, taking those simple TRUTHS aforementioned. It is why the matter will end up in the courts, with the less able to do, will cause damage to come.

This reaction is similar to what is happening all over the world where ‘mandates’ are enforced.

Vaccine mandate results in teacher shortage – Antigua Breaking News

Masks, school closures only increase fear of COVID-19 in students, says doctor – Cayman Compass

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Caricom – Vacancy

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CARICOM – Staff Vacancy

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Daily Express

Coronavirus latest: Two risk factors for catching Covid post-vaccination – study finding

Daily Express
Daily Express

Ben Claxton

Whilst approved vaccines have demonstrated their effectiveness in clinical trials and global data, they are not a 100 percent shield when coming into contact with COVID-19. According to, Adeel A. Butt, professor of medicine at Weill Medical College, real-world studies confirm that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are 95 percent effective in preventing infection after two doses.

The study, published in MedRxiv, identifies risk factors associated with COVID-19 infection at least 14 days after first vaccination and outlines characteristics of post-vaccination disease.

The King’s College London team looked at adults from the UK who had reported post-vaccination coronavirus infection between 8th December 2020 and 1st May 2021 via the COVID Symptom Study app.

By assessing the demographics of age, frailty, lifestyle factors and geographical locations with infection, the researchers revealed that “post-vaccination infection risk was substantially higher in older adults with frailty and in individuals living in most deprived areas.”

Risk was found to be lower in individuals with a healthy diet and without obesity.

READ MORE: Bowel cancer symptoms: The ‘sensation’ when having a poo – sign

Older people and those in deprived areas most at risk
© Getty Images
Older people and those in deprived areas most at risk

Professor Penny Ward, visiting professor in pharmaceutical medicine at King’s College London, said of the research: “This report is one of the first to provide information on breakthrough cases of COVID detected post-vaccination drawn from the 4.5million respondents that provide daily data using the COVID Symptom Study app.”

Ward alluded to the fact that the app is a self-reporting tool, meaning that the data provided was not always daily, with a relative excess of female participants, so it is not completely representative of the UK.

On this, Ward said this does “not detract from the usefulness of the information provided, and we know from past experience that information provided by this group can be very helpful in providing early insight into public health policies.”

“In this case, the information provided is helpful in understanding the potential need for booster vaccinations in a proportion of the frail elderly as we approach winter,” Ward explained.

DON’T MISS: Where you live in England may determine your risk of dying from Covid – new study [STUDY]Vitamin B12 deficiency: Three symptoms that can lead to nerve damage – what to look for [EXPERT]Cutting down on calories can boost longevity – but how much should you cut back? Study [STUDY]

Other findings in the study concluded:

  • Vaccination was associated with reduced odds of hospitalisation and high acute-symptom burden.
  • In the 60+ age group, the risk of more than 28 days illness was lower following vaccination.
  • Most symptoms were reported less in positive-vaccinated vs. positive-unvaccinated individuals, except sneezing, which was more common post-vaccination.

The research team found that their discoveries call attention to the reduced symptom burden and duration in people infected in post-vaccination.

Whilst the research is reassuring, the team said that the paper’s data should also prompt efforts to boost vaccine effectiveness in at-risk populations.

risk factors for catching covid after vaccination
© Getty Images
risk factors for catching covid after vaccination

Furthermore, the team also suggested that targeting infection control measures will still be an appropriate way to minimise COVID-19 infections.

Persistent symptoms lasting more than 28 days were not much affected in cases occurring after a single dose of vaccine, but the incidence was in fact halved (from 11.4 to 5.2 percent) among the double vaccinated.

According to War, this suggests “for the first time that vaccination can protect against Long Covid both by preventing infection and then ameliorating illness experienced following breakthrough infection.”

Regrettably, the study did not contain information on illness associated with different variants, and the duration of the study (Dec 2020 to early July 2021) covered the alpha and early delta variant waves in the UK, Ward explained.

Vaccine effectiveness
© Daily Express
Vaccine effectiveness

Long Covid is assessed in the study by analysing the proportion of cases with symptoms persisting for more than 28 days.

However Long Covid is still poorly understood and the persistence of symptoms post-infection, and their severity, remains to be explored.

However, Ward insists that it is “encouraging that the overall proportion of cases with persistent symptoms is reduced in patients that were previously fully vaccinated, which taken together with the milder overall illness and reduction in the need for hospital care demonstrates the additional worth of vaccination in reducing the severity of illness for individuals and reducing the burden on the NHS by lowering the number of people needing hospital care.”

While the study is unable to draw robust conclusions such as “fully vaccinated people are almost twice as likely to have no symptoms than unvaccinated if they catch COVID-19” as the app is not completely representative of the UK, one can gain insightful results as to who is most at risk of COVID-19 post-vaccination.

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Pregnancy and the Shot

Stop the Shot – Pregnancy and Fertility Risks – Truth for Health Foundation

https://www.truthforhealth.org/2021/08/stop-the-shot-pregnancy-and-fertility-risks/ << . . .

There were no data evaluating the long-term impact on pregnancy or fertility submitted to or reviewed by the FDA in the data packages that served as the basis for the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the COVID shots.  No pregnant women were included among the patient groups studied in the clinical trials which supported EUA (FDA, Office of Chief Scientist, 2021).  The VAERS database 1 contains over 16,000 adverse event reports following receipt of the COVID shots with impact on pregnancy 2 as of August 6, 2021. . . . . A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (Shimabukuro, et al., 2021) alleged no “…obvious safety signals among pregnant persons who receive mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.” Critical re-analysis of the data presented in the same article shows the actual spontaneous miscarriage rate to be closer to 82% for women vaccinated in the 1st or 2nd trimester of pregnancy (Blumrick, 2021). >> There’s your over half, I rounded down Zelenko’s testimony before the Rabbinical Court. https://vimeo.com/580443866

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Probate Notice –

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Notice to Creditors

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