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Al Noor mosque shooting survivor Farhid Ahmed poses with a photo of his wife Husna, who was killed in the attack, after an interview with Reuters in Christchurch, New Zealand
Al Noor mosque shooting survivor Farhid Ahmed poses with a photo of his wife Husna, who was killed in the attack, after an interview with Reuters in Christchurch, New Zealand March 18, 2019. Picture taken March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

March 19, 2019

By Charlotte Greenfield and Tom Westbrook

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (Reuters) – Husna Ahmed was 19 when she arrived in New Zealand from Bangladesh on her wedding day. Waiting to meet her was Farid, the man she would marry in a few hours, as their families had agreed.

A quarter of a century later, the life they had built together was torn apart at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch when a gunman walked into the building, firing on worshippers at Friday prayers.

Husna encountered the gunman on his way out of the mosque. He shot her on the footpath. She fell and he fired two more shots, killing her instantly.

Farid, who uses a wheelchair after an earlier accident, was talking to a friend and was delayed from joining worshippers at his usual spot at the front of the mosque, instead praying in a small side room.

He managed to escape when he heard the shooting begin, returning when the gunman left, to find many of his friends and community members dead and comfort those who were dying.

Farid found out about his wife’s death when a detective he knew called his niece as they waited outside the mosque.

She passed the phone: “I don’t want you to wait the whole night, Farid. Go home, she will not come,” Farid said the detective told him.

“At the moment I hear that, my response was I felt numb,” Farid told Reuters. “I had tears but I didn’t break down.” His niece crumbled.

A total of 50 people were killed in the rampage, with as many wounded, as the gunman went from Al Noor to another mosque in the South Island city.

Most victims were migrants or refugees from countries including Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Syria, Turkey, Somalia and Afghanistan.

Husna was one of five members of a growing but tight-knit Bangladeshi community killed, according to the Bangladesh consul in New Zealand, Shafiqur Rahman Bhuiyan. Four others were wounded, one critically, he added.

Members of the Bangladesh cricket team, in town for a test match against New Zealand, narrowly avoided the carnage, turning up at the Al Noor mosque soon after the attack took place.

Based on what eyewitnesses told him, Farid said instead of hiding, Husna helped women and children inside the mosque and ran to the front of the building to look for him.

“She’s such a person who always put other people first and she was even not afraid to give her life saving other people,” Farid said.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, has been charged with murder. He entered no plea and police said he is likely to face more charges.

The slaughter has rocked Christchurch, and New Zealand, to its core, blanketing the city in grief and driving Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to promise swift gun law reform.

Farid said he had forgiven his wife’s killer.

“I want to give the message to the person who did this, or if he has any friends who also think like this: I still love you,” Farid said. “I want to hug you and I want to tell him in face that I am talking from my heart. I have no grudge against you, I never hated you, I will never hate you.”

LIKE A MOTHER

A few hours after the massacre as evening fell, the front room of Farid’s home in a sleepy Christchurch suburb where he runs a homeopathy business was full with survivors and friends grieving for a woman many described as like a mother to them.

Husna was born on 12 October in 1974 in Sylhet, a city on the banks the Surma River, in northeastern Bangladesh. She was so fast that Shahzalal Junior High School would only let her run three races, to give her rivals a chance, Farid said.

She moved to New Zealand in 1994.

Thin, nervous and overwhelmed by leaving everyone she knew for a new life in an alien country, she burst into tears when her husband-to-be picked her up from Auckland airport.

He comforted her on the long drive back to Nelson, where he was living, and where she quickly found her feet.

With almost no other Bangladeshis in the small city, Husna made English-speaking friends and learned the language within six months. Farid said she spoke it with more of a Kiwi accent than he did.

When Farid’s workmates at a meatpacking plant agreed to work half an hour longer on Fridays so he could take a break to pray, she cooked them a feast every week in thanks.

And when Farid was partially paralyzed after being run over by a car outside his house, after four years of marriage, she moved with him to Christchurch and became his nurse.

“Our hobby was we used to talk to each other. A lot. And we never felt bored,” he said.

REBUILDING CHRISTCHURCH

When Christchurch was razed by a deadly earthquake in 2011, Husna helped settle an influx of Bangladeshi migrants – qualified engineers, metalworkers and builders – who came to assist the rebuilding of the shattered city.

Mohammad Omar Faruk, 36, was one of the new arrivals. Faruk was working as a welder in Singapore but leapt at the opportunity to come to New Zealand where working conditions were better and permanent residency was possible.

Faruk was also killed at Al Noor mosque.

His employer, Rob van Peer, said he had allowed his team to leave early last Friday after they finished a job by lunchtime, meaning Faruk could attend Friday prayers.

Van Peer said Faruk was loved by his colleagues for his loyal and friendly personality and fast, precise welds.

Zakaria Bhuiyan, a welder at another engineering firm, also died. Newly married, he was waiting for a visitor visa so his wife could travel from Bangladesh.

Mojammel Haque worked as a dentist in Bangladesh and was studying in New Zealand for an advanced medical qualification when he was killed.

All three men knew Husna, said Mojibur Rahman, a welder and former flatmate of Faruk.

“It’s really hard because we are a little community but everyone’s living here in unity, we know each other, we share everything with each together,” he said. “Now I don’t know what’s going to happen, how we become normal.”

The fifth Bangladeshi victim was Abus Samad, 66, a former faculty member of Bangladesh Agriculture University who had been teaching at Christchurch’s Lincoln University.

CUSTOMS AND CARE

Many new workers to Christchurch brought young families, or were starting them and Husna took it upon herself to care for women through their pregnancies, often waking Farid at all hours so he could drive her to the births.

“We think she’s like a mother…if there’s something we needed, we go to Husna,” said Mohammed Jahangir Alan, another welder.

Husna guided his wife, then 19, to a midwife and a doctor and joined her in the delivery room as she gave birth to a baby girl, Alan said.

A few days later Husna shaved the infant’s head, an Islamic ritual which she did for dozens of children in the community. She was so gentle the baby fell asleep while she pulled the razor over the soft skin.

Husna would also lead the customary washing and prayer ritual for women who died. She was due to lead a workshop the day after her death to teach other women the process.

Now, Husna’s devastated female family members will wash her for her funeral, expected later this week.

“We know she would just want us to be a part of it, to wash her,” said her sister-in-law Ayesha Corner.

After the burial, Farid says he wants to continue the work he and his wife used to do and to care for their 15-year-old daughter.

When the lockdown at her school lifted on Friday, their daughter returned home, knowing only her mother was missing and asking where she was.

“I didn’t miss a second, I said: ‘She is with God,’” Farid said.

“She said: ‘You are lying’. She said: ‘Are you telling me I don’t have a mother?’”

“I said: ‘Yes, but I am your mother now and I am your father…we have to change the roles.”

(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield and Tom Westbrook in CHRISTCHURCH; Additional reporting by Ruma Paul in DHAKA; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

Source: OANN

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Democrats are predicting a climate-change-fueled apocalypse 12 years from now, but 3,800 miles away in Paris, we’re seeing a preview of the real doomsday scenario that would result from radical policies such as the Green New Deal.

For the 18th weekend in a row, violent protests broke out in the streets of one of Europe’s oldest cities as French citizens protested their government’s efforts to make them bear the costs of transitioning to clean energy. The mouvement des gilets jaunes, or Yellow Vests Movement, started in response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to raise gas taxes by 12 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24 cents per gallon for diesel, prompting the working-class protesters to complain that “the government talks about the end of the world. We are worried about the end of the month.”

With gas prices at nearly $6 per gallon, driving in France is already very expensive, and while public transportation is available in urban centers, most people in rural areas have no realistic alternative to driving.

It’s understandable that French workers would recoil from Macron’s effort to make them bear the costs of his environmentalist agenda, but his brand of elitist authoritarianism actually pales in comparison to the “green dream” being pushed by liberal elites here in America.

The Democrats’ neo-socialist Green New Deal calls for achieving “net-zero” carbon emissions within 10 years, a goal that would impose enormous hardships on American workers and consumers. The plan would be economically crippling to American taxpayers, exceeding $93 trillion in costs while displacing some 10 million Americans in high-paying oil and gas industries from their jobs.

Energy costs for home heating and electrical power would likely double or triple, according to a recent Heritage Foundation study.

That’s a far more onerous burden than the 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax hike that has paralyzed Paris with protests, and it’s hard to imagine that the American people would meekly sit by and let elitist politicians sacrifice their livelihoods on the altar of environmental extremism.

Riots in the streets, though, could actually be the least of our problems if the U.S. adopts this radical environmentalist pipe dream. Without fossil fuels, basic necessities such as heating and food would become precious commodities, exposing American citizens to the risks of starvation and exposure.

The freedom-loving gilets jaunes protesters in Paris have seen the handwriting on the wall, and they’re taking a stand now before their leaders impoverish them completely. Will Americans prove as prescient?

Michael D. Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas, is a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa
FILE PHOTO: Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

March 19, 2019

By Maggie Fick and Tim Hepher

ADDIS ABABA/PARIS (Reuters) – The investigation into the final minutes of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 turned on Tuesday to the secrets in the cockpit voice recorder as Boeing and a shaken global aviation industry hung on the outcome.

The voices of Captain Yared Getachew and First Officer Ahmednur Mohammed could reveal what led to the March 10 crash of the Boeing 737 MAX that has worrying parallels with another disaster involving the same model off Indonesia in October.

(GRAPHIC: Ethiopian Airlines crash – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hn6V4k)

The twin disasters killed 346 people.

Black box data was downloaded in France but only Ethiopian experts leading the probe have heard the dialogue between Getachew, 29, and Mohammed, 25. The data was back in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, sources familiar with the probe told Reuters.

Experts believe a new automated system in Boeing’s flagship MAX fleet – intended to stop stalling by dipping the plane’s nose – may have played a role in both crashes, with pilots unable to override it as their jets plunged downwards.

Both came down just minutes after take-off after erratic flight patterns and loss of control reported by the pilots. However, every accident is a unique chain of human and technical factors, experts say.

The prestige of Ethiopian Airlines, one of Africa’s most successful companies, and Boeing, the world’s biggest planemaker and a massive U.S. exporter, is at stake in the inquiry.

AWKWARD QUESTIONS FOR INDUSTRY

Lawmakers and safety experts are questioning how thoroughly regulators vetted the MAX model and how well pilots were trained on new features. For now, regulators have grounded the existing fleet of more than 300 MAX aircraft and deliveries of nearly 5,000 more – worth well over $500 billion – are on hold.

Pressure on the Chicago-headquartered company has grown with news that federal prosecutors and the U.S. Department of Transportation are scrutinizing how carefully the MAX model was developed, two people briefed on the matter said.

The U.S. Justice Department was looking at the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) oversight of Boeing, one of the people said. And a federal grand jury last week issued at least one subpoena to an entity involved in the plane’s development.

In the hope of getting its MAX line back into the air soon, Boeing said it will roll out a software update and revise pilot training. In the case of the Lion Air crash in Indonesia, it has raised questions about whether crew used the correct procedures.

“Lives depend on the work we do,” acknowledged Boeing boss Dennis Muilenburg, facing the biggest crisis of his tenure.

The MAX, which offers cost savings of about 15 percent on fuel, was developed for service from 2017 after the successful launch by its main rival of the Airbus A320neo.

(GRAPHIC: The grounded 737 Max fleet – https://tmsnrt.rs/2u5sZYI)

After Ethiopia, France and the United States all noted parallels with the Indonesia crash, one person familiar with the probe said black box data showed the Ethiopian Airlines jet’s “angle of attack” was “very similar” to the Lion Air plane.

The angle of attack is a fundamental parameter of flight, measuring the degrees between the air flow and the wing. If it is too high, it can throw the plane into an aerodynamic stall.

GLOBAL RAMIFICATIONS

In the hot seat over its certification of the MAX without demanding additional training and its closeness to Boeing, the FAA has said it is “absolutely” confident in its vetting.

But given the U.S. probe, Canada said it would re-examine its acceptance of the FAA validation and do its own independent certification.

The crisis has put the airline world in a spin.

One company, Norwegian Airlines, has already said it will seek compensation after grounding its MAX aircraft.

Various firms are reconsidering Boeing orders, and some airlines are revising profit forecasts given they now cannot count on maintenance and fuel savings factored in from the MAX.

Beyond the corporate ramifications, anguished relatives are still waiting to find out what happened.

Many have been visiting the crash site in a charred field to seek some closure, but there is anger at the slow pace of information and all they have been given for funerals is earth.

Abdulmajid Shariff, a Yemeni who lost his brother-in-law, was heading home on Tuesday. “I’m just so terribly sad. I had to leave here without the body of my dead brother. But I have to praise almighty God, there is nothing more to do.”

(Reporting by Maggie Fick and Jason Neely in Addis Ababa, Tim Hepher in Paris, David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Jamie Freed in Singapore; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Georgina Prodhan)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A large robot nicknamed ÒKongÓ lifts the body of a Ford Expedition SUV at FordÕs Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville
FILE PHOTO: A large robot nicknamed Kong lifts the body of a Ford Expedition SUV at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant as the No. 2 U.S. automaker ramps up production of two large SUV models in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Nick Carey/File Photo

March 19, 2019

By Joseph White

DETROIT (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co <F.N> said it will boost U.S. production of its largest sport utility vehicles in a move to grab profits in a market where consumers favor larger, more comfortable vehicles.

Ford’s Kentucky Truck plant in Louisville will increase the production rate for Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicles by 20 percent in July – the second 20 percent increase in a year for both models, executives said during a media briefing on Monday.

The move highlights Detroit automakers’ aggressive efforts to capitalize on popular, profitable large vehicles in America’s heartland, even as policymakers in California, China and Europe push for smaller, electric vehicles to reduce carbon dioxide emissions linked to climate change.

The Trump administration, however, has proposed freezing U.S. fuel efficiency standards – a decision that would make it easier for automakers to sell large SUVs and pickup trucks. [nL1N20T0TB]

With gasoline relatively cheap, U.S. consumers are paying premium prices for large SUVs that seat eight people and can tow a four-ton trailer.

The average transaction price of a new Ford Expedition is $62,700, Ford U.S. marketing director Matt VanDyke said, up $11,700 from the previous year. Ford does not disclose profits by model line. Average prices for the luxury Navigator rose to $81,000 in February from $78,000 a year earlier, according to Lincoln data.

In January, Ford said transaction prices across its U.S. model lines averaged $38,400, above the $34,000 industry average.

General Motors Co <GM.N>, which dominates the North American large SUV segment, will launch a new generation of its large SUV Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, and GMC Yukon, models later this year. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV <FCHA.MI> last month said it will re-enter the large SUV segment with new models due out in late 2020. [nL1N20L156]

Ford workers and engineers redesigned portions of the Kentucky Truck assembly line to allow for the latest increase, Ford North American manufacturing chief John Savona said.

For the first time, he said, workers at certain stations will be positioned at two levels – some in pits and some on platforms – to install parts on upper and lower sections of a vehicle in unison.

The redesigned Expedition and Navigator assembly system requires 550 additional workers, and those jobs will be filled by workers currently at Ford’s Louisville assembly plant, which builds small Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC SUVs, Savona said.

Ford invested $925 million to build the new generation Expedition and Navigator SUVs at the Kentucky plant. The automaker is pushing for market share in a segment it largely surrendered to rival GM over the past decade.

Since launching its new big SUVs, Ford has improved its share of the U.S. large SUV segment by 5.6 percentage points, Ford’s VanDyke told reporters on Monday.

But GM still commands a 70 percent share of a market where vehicles sell for more than double the average price of a midsize sedan. Ford on Monday night launched a marketing campaign to win over customers. Their slogan: “Built to be a better big.”

(Reporting By Joe White; Editing by Nick Carey)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida
FILE PHOTO: A police boat patrols in front of U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 17, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

March 19, 2019

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic congressional leaders have asked the FBI to investigate the founder of a Florida massage parlor chain who is an alleged acquaintance of President Donald Trump, according to a letter released on Monday.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer released the letter, signed by four other lawmakers. It asked investigators to look into “public reports about alleged activities by Ms. Li ‘Cindy’ Yang and her apparent relationship with the president.”

A chain of massage parlors founded by Yang is “suspected of involvement” in human trafficking and prostitution which involves female immigrants being forced to serve as “sex workers,” said the letter to the FBI and other federal investigative agencies.

Senators Mark Warner and Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler signed the letter. It said Yang also reportedly created a business called GY US investments which they allege “may be selling access to the president and members of his family to clients from China.”

Michelle Merson, a Florida lawyer who says she is representing Yang, could not immediately be reached for comment. On a website, Merson posted a video in which she said Yang is scared and in hiding.

Merson said Yang denies the allegations made against her. “Ms. Yang is not concerned because she feels she’s speaking the truth and the truth will free her,” Merson said in the video.

The Democrats’ letter said Yang’s website, which has been taken down, once offered clients the “opportunity to interact” with Trump and other political figures as well as participation in White House and Capitol Hill dinners.

The letter said that, if proven, such allegations “raise serious counterintelligence concerns.”

It asked if Yang had been the focus of earlier federal or state probes and for an assessment of “counterintelligence risks” which Yang’s activities might have posed.

The Democrats also asked if other individuals have used Mar-a-Lago, the president’s Palm Beach estate, to offer foreigners access to Trump or people around him, as well as whether Yang or her foreign clients have had access to Trump or U.S. officials at the White House, Mar-a-Lago, or other Trump properties.

The FBI had no comment on the legislators’ letter. The White House, the Office of Director of National Intelligence, and the Secret Service did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(This story corrects throughout to show Pelosi and Schumer released, but did not sign the letter, which four other lawmakers signed)

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

Vietnamese who live in Japan celebrate Vietnamese New Year at a Catholic Church in Kawaguchi, near Tokyo
Vietnamese who live in Japan celebrate Vietnamese New Year at a Catholic Church in Kawaguchi, near Tokyo, Japan February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

March 18, 2019

By Linda Sieg and Ami Miyazaki

TOKYO (Reuters) – When a young Vietnamese woman found out late last year that she was pregnant after arriving in Japan on a “technical trainee” visa, she was given a stark choice: “Have an abortion or go back to Vietnam.”

But returning home would leave her unable to pay back the $10,000 she borrowed to pay recruiters there.

“She needs to stay to pay back her debts,” said Shiro Sasaki, secretary general of the Zentoitsu (All United) Workers Union, who has advocated on her behalf and said such threats were common.

Buoyed by hopes of higher wages but burdened by loans, Vietnamese youth – the fastest-growing group of foreign workers in Japan – will be among those most affected by a new scheme to let in more blue-collar workers that kicks off in April.

“Trainees from China have been declining as wages there rise with economic growth, while in Vietnam, unemployment is high for youth with high education levels, so many young people want to go abroad to work,” said Futaba Ishizuka, a research fellow at the Institute of Developing Economies, a think tank.

The technical trainee program is widely known as a back door for blue-collar labor in immigration-shy Japan. Reported abuses in Japan include low and unpaid wages, excessive hours, violence and sexual harassment. In Vietnam, unscrupulous recruiters and brokers often charge trainees exorbitant fees.

Such problems will persist and could worsen under the new system, aimed at easing a historic labor shortage, according to interviews with activists, academics, unionists and trainees.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose conservative base fears a rise in crime and a threat to the country’s social fabric, has insisted that the new law, enacted in December, does not constitute an “immigration policy.”

That worries critics.

“In fact, Japan is already a country of immigrants. But because they say it is not an ‘immigration policy’ and the premise is that people will not stay, they only take temporary steps,” said Japan Civil Liberties Union director Akira Hatate. “The needs of society are not met, and the needs of the workers are not met.”

GROWING NUMBERS

The trainees system began in 1993 with the aim of transferring skills to workers from developing countries. But persistent abuses developed early on, experts say.

Those issues were spotlighted last year during debate over the new law.

Among the high-profile cases was that of four companies’ using trainees for decontamination work in areas affected by radiation after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Two firms, also accused of not paying appropriate wages, were banned from employing trainees for five years; the others got warnings from the justice ministry.

A labor ministry survey published in June showed more than 70 percent of trainee employers had violated labor rules, with excessive hours and safety problems most common. That compared to 66 percent for employers overall.

The Organization for Technical Intern Training (OTIT), a watchdog group, was set up in 2017. This month, it issued a reminder to employers that trainees are covered by Japanese labor law. It specifically banned unfair treatment of pregnant workers.

Harsh conditions led more than 7,000 trainees to quit in 2017, experts say, many lured by shady brokers promising fake documentation and higher-paying jobs. Almost half were from Vietnam.

Because trainees are not permitted to switch employers, leaving their jobs usually means losing legal visa status. A few go to shelters run by non-profit groups or get help from unionists; many disappear into a labor black market.

“The situation is completely different from what they were told back home,” said Shigeru Yamashita, managing director of the Vietnam Mutual Aid Association in Japan. “They have debts they cannot repay with their salaries at home, so the only option is to flee into the black market for labor.”

ADDRESSING SHORTAGES

The new law will allow about 345,000 blue-collar workers to enter Japan over five years in 14 sectors such as construction and nursing care, which face acute labor shortages. One category of “specified skilled workers” can stay up to five years but cannot bring families.

A second category of visas – currently limited to the construction and shipbuilding industries – allows workers to bring families and be eligible to stay longer.

Nguyen Thi Thuy Phuong, 29, left her husband and elementary-school-age child home in Vietnam to work as a trainee in a knitwear factory in Mitsuke City in northern Japan.

The textile industry was not included in the new visa program after coming under fire for the high number of labor violations in its trainee programs.

Now she wishes she could bring her family and stay longer than three years.

“Life in Japan is convenient, and the air is clean,” she told Reuters in careful Japanese during a break from work.

For-profit employment agencies and individuals can register as liaisons between recruiters and employers. These “registered support organizations” will not need licenses.

Immigration authorities will provide oversight of the new foreign workers; the labor ministry’s immigration bureau will become an agency on April 1, a bureaucratic distinction that gives it more clout.

On Friday, the justice ministry issued fresh rules for the new system, including a requirement that foreign workers be paid at least as much as Japanese employees.

But Sasaki said the agency’s focus would be residence status, not labor conditions.

Some companies have woken up to the risk of losing investors if they or their suppliers violate workers’ rights, said Japan Civil Liberties Union’s Hatate.

But the rush to implement the new law has left local authorities worried that too little has been done to support and integrate more foreigners.

“If there is not a proper framework to accept them and they are thought of as purely a way to fill the labor shortage, for certain there will be major problems,” Yuji Kuroiwa, governor of Kanagawa Prefecture near Tokyo, told Reuters.

Takashi Takayama, whose Vietnamese name is Cao Son Quy, fled Vietnam as a refugee in 1979. He recalled how foreigners were laid off in droves after the 2008 global financial crisis and fears a similar scenario when demand for labor eases after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“When the Olympics are over, I think a tragic event will occur,” Takayama said at a Vietnamese New Year celebration at a Catholic church outside Tokyo. “I don’t want to see that.”

(Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Source: OANN

Celine Ryan | Contributor

Online feminist, transgender, and other intersectionality-inclined communities have seemingly begun to faction. With so much uncertainty surrounding the definition of “woman,” questions are naturally arising about the definition of appropriate feminism. Do trans women count? What about women who choose to sell sex? Ask too many of these questions, however, and you’ll likely be excommunicated from the conversation entirely.

The term “transmedicalist” generally refers to individuals who support the practice of gender transition, but believe it should be reserved to those who have the mental condition of gender dysphoria and have a desire to switch from either of the biological genders to the other. These people typically argue that while genuinely transgender people exist, some who purport to be transgender are doing so for reasons other than dysphoria, such as a search for a solution to general depression, or a desire to follow a trend.

In left-wing online circles, people with this belief are typically referred to as “truscum,” and it’s often made clear they are not welcome to participate in the conversation with people who believe in a spectrum of genders and reasons for identifying as transgender.

Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock.com

Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock.com

One entity that has been criticized as in this way is watchdog group 4thWaveNow, which describes itself as a “community of parents & others concerned about the medicalization of gender-atypical youth and rapid-onset gender dysphoria,” aiming to raise awareness online about “the ever-accelerating medical and media fascination with the phenomenon of ‘transgender children.’”

The Daily Caller reported last week that 4thWaveNow had released a number of revealing screenshots from a private leftist Facebook group, where parents discussed the extreme ways in which they facilitated gender transitions for their toddlers.

4thWaveNow has been criticized as being “transphobic” because it criticizes the practice of encouraging gender transitions in children, especially those who show no signs of actual gender dysphoria. (RELATED: Inside The Online Community Facilitating The Gender Transitions Of 5-Year-Olds)

The same group has now released another batch of screenshots from the same Facebook group, this time revealing conversations among “gender affirming” parents about their supposedly transgender children between the ages of one and four.

The leaked screenshots include a conversation about a two-year-old “amab” [assigned male at birth] child who revealed his true female gender identity to his parents at age two, and another encouraging the confused parent of a four-year-old, who has proclaimed on different occasions to be both a boy and a girl, to “keep following your kid’s lead.”

Other skeptics of intersectionality have been similarly ostracized from the online feminist and LGBT communities, such as “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists,” often derogatorily called “terfs.” These individuals consider themselves to be hardline feminists, but believe that to allow men to transition and live as women is antithetical to the tenants of feminism itself, allowing men to even further oppress women by means of infiltrating womanhood itself.

“Terfs” are regarded in leftist social media circles as “transphobic,” and their nuanced approach to feminism is considered taboo in online leftist communities, such as in this post from a pagan community where “witch terfs” are informed that “Aphrodite is ashamed” of them.

Similarly, these communities don’t take kindly to “serfs,” or “Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminists.” These individuals also consider themselves feminist but consider all forms of prostitution and other sex work to be symptoms of male oppression, rather than evidence of female empowerment. This attitude is seen as noninclusive and intolerant toward sex workers, and as such, these individuals are also often excluded from the conversation.

Follow Celine Ryan on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

Chinese authorities said they arrested nearly 13,000 “terrorists” and punished more than 30,000 for “illegal religious activities” in the Xinjiang region since 2014.

The Chinese government issued a report Monday about its ostensible security measures employed in Xinjiang, in response to international backlash about the use of internment camps, which officials call “vocational training centers,” and severe legal restrictions against Uyghur Muslims in the region, according to The Associated Press.

The government report claimed authorities have arrested 12,995 “terrorists,” seized 2,052 explosive devices, and broken up 1,588 “terrorist gangs” in the region since 2014. (RELATED: China Strongly Implies Muslim Internment Camps Will Never Go Away)

Government officials also said in the report that they confiscated 345,229 copies of “illegal religious publicity materials,” likely meaning Korans, as the Chinese government banned owning or selling a Koran in Xinjiang. Chinese authorities have provided little to no evidence that those who they charge with terrorism in the region actually have ties to foreign terrorist groups, as Beijing claims.

Chinese authorities also outlawed fasting during Ramadan, public prayer, beards and forbade anyone under the age of 18 from participating in religious services. Beijing’s severe crackdown against Islam in the region come as part of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s policy of sinicization, which is a campaign to bring all religions in line with the Communist Party’s vision of Chinese culture.

The report all but confirms Beijing’s goal of forcefully sinicizing the Uyghur Muslims, saying though it “cannot be denied that Xinjiang received the influence of Islamic culture,” it is an “objective fact” that Xinjiang’s culture is ultimately part of Chinese culture.

Workers walk by the perimeter fence of what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Workers walk by the perimeter fence of what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

“Islam is not the natural faith of the Uyghurs and other ethnicities, nor is it their only faith,” the report reads.

Patrick Poon, an Amnesty International China researcher, said Beijing’s report proves Chinese authorities are using a vague definition of terrorism to justify what he says is the arbitrary arrest and detention of thousands of people.

“It’s exactly because of the Chinese government’s arbitrary and vague definition of these terms that leads to mass arbitrary detention of many ordinary people in Xinjiang,” Poon said, according to the AP.

Poon also criticized the Chinese government’s labeling of internment camps as “vocational training centers.”

“It’s simply not normal at all for people losing contact with their relatives if they are merely receiving ‘vocational training’ as the Chinese government claims,” Poon said.

Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, said China was using the report to try to garner international sympathy for its harsh treatment of Uyghurs.

Maya Wang, a senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch, went so far as to call China’s bluff, saying the government should open the camps to investigation if it had nothing to conceal.

“If the Chinese government is so certain that it has nothing to hide in Xinjiang, then it should allow independent international observers such as the U.N. into the region,” Wang said.

Former internment camp detainees claim camp officials subjected them to forced medication, forced medical procedures, inhumane living conditions, brainwashing and compelled them to renounce Islam and pledge their loyalty to the state.

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Source: The Daily Caller

Matt M. Miller | Contributor

Organizers of the St. Patrick’s Days celebration in Wright Square in Savannah, Georgia, posted pictures on Facebook of the carnage left by partyers over the weekend.

The images show trash completely covering the ground with city workers and volunteers working to clean up the mess. The post from the “City of Savannah Government St. Patrick’s Festival Info” Facebook page has been shared 1,500 times as of Monday. (RELATED: Why Do Americans Eat Corned Beef On St. Patrick’s Day?)

As many as 300,000 people were expected to have attended the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day parade this year, which was first hosted in the city in 1824.

The city of Savannah attempted to crack down on the amount of litter produced by the St. Patrick’s Day celebration this year, upping the police presence at Chippewa Square, which was the epicenter of the trash problem in recent years. As a result, partyers simply moved to neighboring Wright Square to cause just as much destruction.

Local officials are already making plans to thwart littering at next year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration. “We know what to do now,” Susan Broker, City Hall’s chief planner for St. Patrick’s Day stated. “We will be implementing some rules throughout the parade area and enforcing those next year. We have 364 days to get this right, and we’re going to.”

Broker says that the city is planning to ban styrofoam coolers at next year’s celebration since they have a tendency to break down into impossibly small fragments difficult to clean. (RELATED: ‘Drink Responsibly’ — GOP Ripped After Dragging Beto O’Rourke In St. Patrick’s Day Tweet)

Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter said that his department made 19 arrests in downtown Savannah and 12 drunk driving arrests during the weekend celebration.

Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach thanked the volunteers and city employees who were responsible for cleaning up the mess: “You walked out here the next day and you didn’t even think anybody had been here.”

Source: The Daily Caller

The GM logo is seen at the General Motors plant in Sao Jose dos Campos
The GM logo is seen at the General Motors plant in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Roosevelt Cassio

March 18, 2019

By Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) – As Lyft Inc cruises toward an initial public offering this month, one of the big winners will be General Motors Co, whose stake in the ride-hailing firm could be worth as much as $1.27 billion.

GM is not talking about its plans for that investment, and investors polled by Reuters, owning a collective 35.7 million shares, do not have a consensus view.

Some believe the No. 1 U.S. automaker should hold on to it for strategic reasons, while others want the money returned to shareholders through buybacks or a special dividend.

“Unless GM can leverage its investment in Lyft to accelerate its own robo-taxi ambitions with Cruise, we believe it would be appropriate to cash out its stake to repurchase its own under-valued shares,” said Michael Razewski, a partner with Douglas C. Lane & Associates, which owned about 2.6 million GM shares at the end of 2018.

Cruise Automation is GM’s self-driving car unit.

Lyft on Monday launched the investor “roadshow” for the March 29 IPO, and it said it to sell Class A shares at $62 to $68 a share.

GM owns more than 18.6 million Class A shares, according to the Lyft filing, meaning its investment at the outset could be worth $1.16 billion to $1.27 billion. GM invested $500 million in Lyft in January 2016.

With a 180-day lock-up period during which GM cannot sell and the expected April IPO of larger rival Uber Technologies Inc further stoking interest in the ride-hailing sector, the value could subsequently rise.

GM spokesman Tom Henderson said the automaker is happy with its Lyft stake, but declined to discuss future plans for the shares. Lyft spokeswoman Alexandra LaManna had no comment.

Several shareholders would like to see GM sell the stake and use the proceeds to repurchase shares or pay a special dividend.

“If I want to buy Lyft, I’ll go do it myself,” said Scott Schermerhorn, managing principal with Granite Investment Advisors, which owns more than 210,000 GM shares. “Take the proceeds and invest it in something that’s core to their business or give it back to shareholders.”

However, Jacques Elmaleh, portfolio manager with Steinberg Global Asset Management, with almost 24,000 GM shares at the end of 2018, said it is too early to write off the relationship.

“I’d be inclined that they hold onto it and see how it plays out,” he said.

Some of GM’s larger investors – the United Auto Workers retiree healthcare benefits trust, hedge fund manager David Einhorn and T. Rowe Price Group Inc – declined to comment. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc did not respond to a request for comment.

GM’s former president, Dan Ammann, joined Lyft’s board as the companies eyed developing networks of self-driving cars together. However, there have been few signs of cooperation. Ammann – who now leads Cruise – left the Lyft board in June 2018.

Analysts have speculated GM will eventually sell shares in Cruise or spin it off, and the incentive plan disclosed last month for Ammann pointed toward a possible IPO.

Kyle Martin, analyst with Westwood Holdings, which owns more than 30,000 GM shares, would just as soon see GM sell the Lyft stake and use that money in Cruise.

“That’s a meaningful amount of money that could certainly help them close the gap with Waymo and put them even further ahead of Ford,” he said, referring to technology leader Alphabet’s Waymo and GM rival Ford Motor Co.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman, additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Source: OANN


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