News - Page 4

Why 340,000 UPS Workers Are Preparing to Strike in the U.S.


United Parcel Service (UPS) workers are gearing up for a potential strike as they hold contract negotiations with the company. Talks between the company and the union representing UPS workers, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, opened on April 17. Teamsters President Sean O’Brien says that workers are ready to walk off the job if UPS fails to reach a deal on a strong contract before the current one expires on July 31.

Workers are demanding better pay, more full-time work, better job security, and an end to the two-tier “22.4” job classification. The deeply unpopular “22.4” provision creates a lower-paid tier of workers who essentially perform the same work as senior drivers, but receive lower pay.

The workers are also demanding an end to excessive overtime, better protections against company harassment, the elimination of driver-facing cameras, and protection from hot weather. Drivers reported extreme temperatures inside their delivery trucks in posts that went viral last summer, and workers, like 24-year-old Esteban Chavez Jr., have died due to extreme heat.

A strike may have a formidable impact. UPS workers move 6 percent of U.S. GDP every day. The last time UPS Teamsters went on strike was in 1997 when 185,000 workers walked off the job in one of the largest strikes in U.S. history. The work stoppage cost the company $850 million despite only lasting for 15 days. There has been no larger work stoppage in the US since then.

from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

Doctors Without Borders Asks Israel to Stop Forceful Displacement of Palestinians From Masafer Yatta


Doctors Without Borders (MSF), in a report published on April 30, asked Israeli authorities to immediately halt the forceful displacement of Palestinians from Masafer Yatta, in the occupied West Bank.

MSF called on Israeli authorities “to stop implementing restrictive measures that impede the ability of Palestinians in Masafer Yatta to access basic services, including medical care.”

More than 1,000 Palestinians living in and around 14 villages in Masafer Yatta have been displaced or faced threats of displacement since May 2022, when the Israeli Supreme Court dismissed Palestinians’ petition against the forceful displacement. In January of this year, Israeli authorities gave notice to the villagers, and since then have been carrying out demolitions of Palestinian houses, schools, and other civilian infrastructure in the area.

MSF claimed that their findings were based on extensive one-on-one interviews and focus group discussions with the villagers in Masafer Yatta. The report asks Israelis to stop nightly raids on the villages and notes that the displacement and raids have not only psychologically impacted the Palestinians, but also hampered their access to medical care and other basic services.

MSF also claimed that illegal Israeli settlers often carry out attacks against the residents of Masafer Yatta and prevent them from carrying out their daily affairs. According to MSF, violence against Palestinians by Israeli forces and settlers are violations of international humanitarian laws.

from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

China and Myanmar Strengthen Ties Through Increased Cooperation Across Multiple Industries


China and Myanmar have agreed to deepen cooperation in various fields so as to promote the continuous development of the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries.

At a meeting with Myanmar’s Union Minister for Foreign Affairs Than Swe here on Tuesday, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang said viewing its good-neighborly relations with Myanmar from a strategic perspective, China is willing to work with Myanmar to implement the important achievements during the Chinese leader’s visit to Myanmar.

China respects Myanmar’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and firmly supports Myanmar in maintaining independence and political stability and achieving sustainable development, said the Chinese foreign minister.

China also supports Myanmar in exploring a development path with Myanmar characteristics that suits its national conditions and steadily advancing its political transition process, he said.

Qin said China is willing to strengthen communication with ministries and localities of Myanmar, and expand cooperation in agriculture, border trade and other fields, while strengthening support for Myanmar’s economic development by focusing on the construction of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

In addition, the Chinese side will implement its aid projects in Myanmar to support the Myanmar side in improving people’s livelihood, and both sides should enhance people-to-people exchanges and deepen cultural heritage protection and religious exchanges, he said.

China is also willing to work with Myanmar and Bangladesh to promote the construction of the China-Myanmar-Bangladesh economic corridor, he added.

For his part, Than Swe said Myanmar firmly adheres to the one-China policy, supports China’s Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative and Global Civilization Initiative, and strongly supports China on issues concerning its core interests.

Myanmar is looking forward to working with China to deepen cooperation in such areas as agriculture, transportation, energy and connectivity, actively push forward landmark projects of the Myanmar-China Economic Corridor and implement more livelihood projects to benefit the two peoples, he said.

Myanmar is ready to work with China to safeguard security and stability in the border areas, and to promote the China-Myanmar-Bangladesh economic corridor with China and Bangladesh, he added.

Prominent Islamic Jihad leader dies in Israeli prison after hunger strike

[ Xinhua] A prominent leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement (PIJ) on Tuesday died in an Israeli prison after he went on a hunger strike for 86 days, Palestinian and Israeli sources said.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club Association, a non-governmental organization, said in a press statement that Khader Adnan died after a hunger strike for 86 days.

It is Adnan’s sixth hunger strike in Israeli prisons, where he had previously survived five to protest his arrest and administrative detention without trial.

His last hunger strike began on Feb. 5 after an Israeli army force stormed his house in Arraba, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and arrested him for the sixth time.

The Israeli Prison Service said in a statement that Adnan, 45 years old, “was found unconscious in his cell in Nitzan prison.”

“A medical staff tried to resuscitate his heart before he was transferred to Assaf Harofeh Hospital, where his death was confirmed,” said the statement.

It added, “Adnan refused to undergo medical examinations and receive treatment during his hunger strike.”

Meanwhile, a member of the PIJ Political Bureau in Gaza, Muhammad Al-Hindi, said that his movement mourned Adnan and condemned his death in Israeli prisons.

“We hold the enemy responsible for the crime of assassinating Sheikh Khader Adnan, and the enemy will pay the price for this crime,” said Al-Hindi.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club Association, Adnan’s death brings the number of Palestinian prisoners who died in Israeli prisons to 237 since 1967, including 75 fatalities due to medical negligence.

Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka celebrates its 178th Anniversary

This year marks the 178th anniversary of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka the oldest learned society in the country, but arguably the 178th year stands as a critical juncture for the society due to various reasons. Mainly the unlawful occupation of society’s premises by the Mahavali Authority is a serious concern as it creates a vulnerability for the library of the Royal Asiatic Society which consists of an invaluable collection of books dating back to the 16th century. The deplorable financial status is another major problem for the continuity of the scholarly work of the Royal Asiatic Society. When its fellow Asiatic society in Calcutta receives 44 Million from the central government of India monthly, the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka only receives one million annual grants from the Government of Sri Lanka, which is by all means not adequate for the main research activities of the society. Also, the lack of public awareness of the existence of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka hinders its intellectual engagement with the public. In particular, the gap existing between the Society and the University academia in Sri Lanka reflects the scholarly erosion of the country compared to the university scholars such as Prof. T. Nadaraja, and Prof. Ariyapala from yesteryears.

Against the backdrop of such crucial conditions that the Royal Asiatic Society has been facing, the official visit of President Ranil Wickremasinghe fell on the 27th of April. It was a response to an official letter written by the current President of the Royal Asiatic Society Dr Malini Dias to President Ranil Wickremasinghe regarding the troubled status of the Society and the visit of the President signifies as it was the first visit made by the Head of the State of Sri Lanka since late President J.R Jayewardene, who visited the Royal Asiatic of Sri Lanka along with the British Prime Minister Margret Thatcher in 1985. By the Constitution of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, the Head of the State is the chief patron of the Society, which had been a practice upheld by the Colonial Governors. The visit of President Ranil Wickremasinghe is a gesture that stands along with that distinguished tradition.

On a personal level, President Wickremashinge has a link with the Royal Asiatic Society rooted in his family history as President’s Grand Father C.L Wickremasinghe’s collection on the Sinhalese folklore remains in the library of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka. In his remarks at the discussion held at the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka President mentioned the yeoman service rendered by the distinguished scholars at the Society to preserve the historical studies of Sri Lanka. Furthermore, he highlighted how studying the history of Sri Lanka through “Mahawansa” enabled colonial archaeologists to trace the history of India as well.

President was much concerned about the severe issues faced by the Royal Asiatic Society and pledged the support of the government to carry out future activities, in his speech, he indicated that the Royal Asiatic Society would play a pivotal role in initiating a new Institute of History.

Rwanda to digitize genocide memorial sites


Rwanda is set to digitize selected genocide memorial sites in the country as part of efforts to preserve the history of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi and ease visitors’ access to memorials, an official has said.

Jean Damascene Bizimana, minister of national unity and civic engagement, made the remarks during an event Friday to unveil a 10-year funding package for the project in the Rwandan capital of Kigali.

“Digitization will preserve the history and provide visitors with electronic access to all information through videos and audio. It will enable people to visit these memorials without the need for a guide,” said Bizimana.

The move will start with three memorial sites, including Nyange and Murambi in western Rwanda, and Ntarama in the east, but with a target of covering other memorials across the country, according to the minister.

Bizimana said necessary data, including survivors’ testimonies, pictures, information about trials, and other relevant information, has been collected to ensure the successful implementation of the project.

The latest official figures show that there are more than 170 genocide memorial sites in the country. Efforts are ongoing to merge some genocide remains from smaller sites to new standard sites with enough space to preserve genocide history and create a memorial garden in order to ensure their proper preservation.

App Delivery Workers in India Strike Against Increasing Exploitation 


A new pay scheme introduced by Blinkit, a quick-delivery grocery unit under one of India’s largest food delivery platforms, Zomato, has sparked protests by delivery workers across several cities in the country. 

Discussions with the labor department failed to address the key issue of pay revision.

Protests by Blinkit delivery partners were reported in Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune, and the national capital New Delhi. In videos shared via social media, protestors were seen burning effigies of the quick-commerce platform and holding placards against it. They are demanding that the new pay structure, which will reportedly reduce their current incomes upon implementation, be immediately rescinded.

Zomato bought Blinkit in 2022 for $568 million.

The new payout introduced on April 10 has dropped per delivery rate from Rs 25 ($0.30) to Rs 15 ($0.18). The previous structure had a defined base payment with incentives according to the distance traveled by the partner to deliver the order. In the new payout system, however, there is no base payment. The partner will only be paid per kilometer of travel to deliver the orders, for which the rate ranges between Rs 9 ($0.11) and Rs 12 ($0.15), which can increase to Rs 15 ($0.18) with an additional bonus.

The workers of the aggregator app, who are called “delivery partners” or “delivery executives” by the company, are angry about the loss of their basic income at a time when inflation is soaring at 5.66 percent.

from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

Ecuador: Prosecutors Request Preventive Detention of Former President Lenín Moreno


Ecuador’s attorney general’s office, on April 19, requested the preventive detention of former president Lenín Moreno after he failed to appear before the court as mandated in the Sinohydro case. Moreno is accused of receiving bribes for the construction of the country’s largest hydroelectric plant. The attorney general’s office also requested the pretrial arrest of eight other defendants, including Moreno’s wife Rocío González and their daughter Irina Moreno González.

On March 6, during a hearing for the formulation of charges, Judge Adrián Rojas ordered all 37 accused to appear biweekly before the National Court of Justice (CNJ) in Quito to ensure their presence in a possible trial for the crime of bribery.

From the beginning, Moreno, who currently resides in Paraguay and serves as commissioner of the Organization of American States (OAS) for Disability Affairs, had rejected because of his physical condition the obligation established by the judge that forced him to travel to Ecuador every two weeks. He tried to revoke it through two appeals, including a request to appear at the Embassy of Ecuador in Asunción, Paraguay, instead. However, the court rejected both of the preventive habeas corpus actions filed by the former president’s defense.

Initially, the attorney general’s office had requested the provisional detention of all defendants except Moreno and 12 others aged over 65. The former head of state’s failure to appear periodically led the attorney general’s office to seek his preventive imprisonment, along with others. The hearing to review the request will be held next week.

from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

Chile’s President Announces Plan to Nationalize Lithium Industry


Chile’s President Gabriel Boric, in a televised address to the nation on April 20, announced his plan to nationalize the country’s lithium industry to boost the economy and protect the environment.

Boric stated that his national lithium policy includes the creation of a state-owned company that will eventually take control of the country’s lithium mining sector from private industry giants.

Chile has one of the world’s largest lithium reserves and is the world’s second-largest producer of the metal after Australia. Albemarle and Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM), the world’s number one and number two lithium suppliers, respectively, are the two companies that currently hold licenses for lithium exploration, mining, and exploitation in the Atacama salt flat in the north of Chile. SQM’s contract is set to expire in 2030, and Albemarle’s in 2043.

Lithium is in high demand worldwide for the manufacture of batteries. Its demand is predicted to increase as much as 40-fold by 2040 due to the global energy transition. Latin America will play a key role in this shift. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the region is home to an estimated 60 percent of the identified lithium reserves globally.

The head of state added that the plan includes encouraging the use of new technologies to minimize the impacts of mining on ecosystems and promoting research through a salt flat protection network.

President Boric said that future lithium exploration would be undertaken with the participation of all Indigenous communities residing near the extraction zones and reliant on local water basins for their livelihoods.

from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

U.S. And NATO Allies Accounted for Over Half of Global Military Expenditure in 2022


The world’s total military expenditure surpassed $2.24 trillion in 2022, with Europe recording its steepest rise in the last three decades, according to the annual military expenditure report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The report was published on April 24.

The annual report notes that global military expenditure rose by 3.7 percent last year. 2022 was the eighth consecutive year of increasing global defense spending. 

The U.S. remains by far the largest global spender with a military expenditure of over $877 billion in 2022—three times more than the second largest spender, China, which spent $292 billion. $19.9 billion of the U.S. military expenditure was military aid to Ukraine. 

The U.S. and its NATO allies have been the primary reason for the rising military expenditure and weaponization in the world.

The U.S. alone accounts for 39 percent of the world’s total military expenditure. This is more than the total military expenditure of the rest of the top 10 military spenders, including China, Russia, and India. According to a SIPRI press release, the 31 NATO members together spent over $1.23 trillion—more than half of the world’s total military expenditure in 2022.

from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

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