Crisis Lines – Namiaz http://namiaz.org/ Tue, 17 May 2022 02:39:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://namiaz.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/icon-7-150x150.png Crisis Lines – Namiaz http://namiaz.org/ 32 32 Overcoming the challenge of exchanging lead service lines https://namiaz.org/overcoming-the-challenge-of-exchanging-lead-service-lines/ Mon, 16 May 2022 20:55:57 +0000 https://namiaz.org/overcoming-the-challenge-of-exchanging-lead-service-lines/

Passing of the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of October 2021 will provide states with $15 billion to fund lead service line replacement — the most funds the federal government has ever put into this work Has. States and water systems across the country are preparing to implement it.

Background information on Lead Service Lines and the damage they cause

A utility line is a pipe that runs from a water main on the street to a dwelling or other structure.

Image of Lead Service Line Replacement Collaborative (NRDC is a member)

Many service lines contain lead; this lead can leach out and flake off into drinking water. Lead is a toxic heavy metal that can cause a number of health and behavioral problems, particularly in children. The CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the World Health Organization all state that there is no safe exposure to lead.

Lead is a toxic heavy metal that can affect almost every organ and system in the human body, often irreversibly. Children and fetuses are particularly at risk. Even at very low levels that were once considered safe, lead can cause serious, irreversible damage to the developing brain and nervous systems of babies and young children. Lead can decrease a child’s cognitive abilities, cause behavioral problems and limit their ability to concentrate – which in turn affects their ability to learn at school. Lead can cross a pregnant woman’s placental barrier into the uterus and harm the fetus.

The Newark Experience

With the high stakes at stake, especially for children, it’s critical for water systems to go the whole hog when replacing lead service lines. Newark, New Jersey, did just that. After initially denying it had a line problem, defying calls for immediate action, and fighting a lawsuit NRDC had filed on behalf of local school teachers, Newark replaced all 23,000 of its known line lines. And once started, it replaced the lead connection lines in less than three years. To get there, the city passed an ordinance mandating lead pipe replacement, fully funding construction, and allowing the city to replace the lead pipe even if it could not locate the property owner to obtain approval. This was especially important in a city where more than 70 percent of residents rent and there are many absentee landlords who are difficult to find. These provisions resulted in a very successful program and easily resolved all of the funding, service line ownership and consent issues.

To help other communities, NRDC has converted Newark’s ordinance into a model ordinance for other communities to consider as they begin their strategy to get their lead pipes out of the ground.

Appointment of exchange of Lead Service Lines

Newark’s program is simple and straightforward. All property owners have been urged to replace their plumbing lines. They could do this by (1) hiring a contractor to do the work (at their own expense) or (2) enlisting the city’s free replacement program. When the landowners used the city’s exchange program, the city paid for it. This mandatory program quickly and efficiently resulted in the replacement of all leading service lines.

Unlike Newark, some water systems do not mandate replacement of lead supply lines. Instead, they have a voluntary program where residents apply to the city for the exchange (and often have to pay to exchange the privately owned portion of the service line — which often costs thousands of dollars). This is inefficient and will result in higher costs. This approach also often means that low-income homeowners and renters never replace their lead plumbing, compounding the disproportionate threats of lead exposure to low-income people and people of color. A voluntary program does not replace all leading utilities, which should be a top priority, and construction is done in an inefficient and expensive hop-slip fashion, not targeted neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block.

“Property” of Service Lines – Muddying the Waters

Some water supply systems (not Newark) claim that their responsibility for replacing a leading service depends on ownership of all or part of the service. In fact, most states and cities categorize the portion of the line that runs from the street to the curb or property line as “owned” by the city. In many cases, cities will claim that the remaining line from the curb to the home belongs to the property owner (see image above for the location of these portions of the utility line). Generally, however, the water system controls the entire supply line, and often (e.g. in Chicago) them necessary Lead utility lines are used, although the system now often attempts to place the burden and cost of replacing that portion of the utility line under private property on the homeowner.

As success in Newark has shown, the concept of ownership in a mandatory program muddies the waters, distracting and distracting from the issue that needs to be addressed – the removal of all leading service lines. For example, and prior to passage of the IIJA, New York City, which does not currently have a mandatory program, assumes no responsibility for the vast majority of leading service lines. According to the DEP LSL FAQ website, “New York City’s water supply lines are owned by the individual property owners, from the water line on the street to the meter in the house.” identified in their 2021 inventory is only committed to replacing 194 LSLs, or just 0.14%, on municipal lots and not the other 137,535, or 99.86%, which are privately owned.

Additionally, replacing just a portion of a lead plumbing—the portion that a city claims its own—would result in a partial replacement of lead plumbing, which can actually increase the amount of lead entering drinking water. An NRDC expert, Cyndi Roper, has previously written about the hidden costs and dangers of partial replacement. The construction process itself can dissolve the lead in the part that is not replaced, causing even more lead to enter drinking water. Additionally, if the pipe is fused to another material such as copper, the two dissimilar metals can initiate a chemical reaction called galvanic corrosion, which can lead to further corrosion of the pipe, increasing the risk of lead-contaminated drinking water. In fact, both the EPA guidelines on the use of IIJA funding and the Treasury Department rules on the use of American Rescue Plan Act funding prohibit partial lead service line replacement funding for these reasons. Congress also banned funding for partial replacement of lead supply lines under the EPA grant program to reduce lead in drinking water.

consent of the property owner or user; occupancy certificate

And Newark built in other helpful safeguards that ensured the success of the program. One was to give residents, not just the property owner, permission to replace the service line. Newark has many absentee landlords; Giving residents the option to consent to the exchange was very innovative and effective. Newark also requires a property owner to provide a certificate of occupancy that includes service line replacement upon sale or transfer of ownership of the structure.

Enforcement Provisions – Improvement of the Newark Ordinance

Newark also built in fines, jail time and community service for a property owner’s refusal to replace a leading service line. In our view, while these enforcement options are well intentioned, they are too harsh and unnecessary. A better way to address non-compliance, and one that we have included in the model ordinance, is to allow water shut-offs when an owner or occupant refuses access to the property for utility line replacement. A failure to replace the lead service line should also be recorded in the property records.

Overcoming all these challenges will result in a successful replacement of all leading service lines. Cities and states that are doing this are acknowledging the public health crisis spearheading existing lines of service. Generations of children have not and will not reach their full potential because of lead poisoning, particularly in black and brown communities. We now have an opportunity to take big steps forward with IIJA funding to stop this. Cities and states must assert their political will. A crisis that is hitting our children and communities so hard needs solutions, not excuses.

We need more water systems to adopt Newark’s “can-do” approach to replacing lead supply lines. Passing a similar ordinance mandating the replacement of lead supply lines, allowing residents to consent to the replacement, and providing other incentives will allow communities to truly get the lead out of their waters.

Focused on the public health crisis, Newark provided the replacements. Other water systems can follow Newark’s very successful path.

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Op-Ed: How COVID Caused a Universal Midlife Crisis https://namiaz.org/op-ed-how-covid-caused-a-universal-midlife-crisis/ Sun, 15 May 2022 10:30:44 +0000 https://namiaz.org/op-ed-how-covid-caused-a-universal-midlife-crisis/

The post-pandemic horizon is coming into focus. Even with the rise of new Omicron subvariants hot on our heels, fear is being replaced by cautious optimism. But we are not going back to pre-pandemic normalcy. In fact, over the past two COVID-19 years, many people have chosen to fundamentally change their pre-pandemic path. More than 30 million US workers quit their jobs in the second half of 2021, the equivalent of the entire population of Texas.

Virtually everyone at every level of the workforce has been forced by the pandemic to reconsider their workplace. Almost a third of US workers under the age of 40 said they had considered a career change since the pandemic began. And it affects both blue-collar and white-collar industries.

But when researchers pull back the shifts, the picture emerges that there’s more to the “big layoff” than just salary dissatisfaction. Many who left their jobs were looking for more respect and meaning, a trend that continues. These are the elements of what psychologists commonly recognize as contributing to a “midlife crisis.” As it turns out, the Great Resignation is actually the Great Midlife Crisis.

Disrupting our lives and transporting us to a profoundly unknown world while confronting our own mortality, COVID-19 has created a universal tipping point. Indeed, this is a standard feature of the identity crisis typically associated with middle age. As old age approaches, people begin to question their identity (who am I?) and career (where am I going?). The pandemic has created conditions for a similar type of identity crisis for people of all ages.

Three lines of research we’ve conducted over the past two decades offer insights into the causes of the Great Resignation and what employers could learn from it.

First, the pandemic has made people acutely aware of their own mortality, with more than 6 million deaths worldwide. When people think about the possibility of their own death, it gives them a broader perspective on their lives and leads them to think about their legacy. For example, in a study where we asked people to think about an existential crisis like global warming, they were more likely to express a desire to create a lasting positive legacy.

Second, the pandemic activated what psychologists call counterfactual thinking, or “if only” thinking. These thoughts of “what could have been” are triggered by breaks in routine as people consider alternate realities. For example, an accident following a different route home from work triggers if only thinking (“If only I had taken my usual route, this would not have happened!”). Counterfactual reasoning is often triggered by rare episodes in which rapid, intense, and marked changes occur, e.g. B. a novel pandemic.

Counterfactual thinking helps people connect the dots in their lives. It can sharply emphasize meaning—or its absence. And finding meaning is how people can turn something traumatic into the seed of growth. The tipping point of the pandemic has caused many people to reflect on where they were two years ago, where they are today and where they are going.

Finally, the dramatic changes brought about by the pandemic have changed people’s contexts and routines, and thus their perspectives. People who had long commutes to the office suddenly stopped commuting altogether and started working from a new location (home). This sudden change in the workplace — where many people spend 35 to 55 hours a week — can be like being in a foreign country.

Our research shows that experiences abroad can give people more clarity about who they really are. We found that people who have lived abroad are more likely to agree with the statement “I have a clear idea of ​​who I am and what I am” than people who plan to go abroad in the future. These experiences create self-clarity because they encourage a counterfactual mindset that helps people see what behaviors are a product of their environment rather than intrinsic. The change in environment and routine brought about by the pandemic has similarly caused many people to value what really makes them who they are, as opposed to what has been dictated by their daily environment.

The combination of mortality, counterfactual reflection, and alien experiences — like the proverbial midlife crisis — has got people thinking about where they are going and where they want to go want walk.

For many, that meant saying, “I’m quitting.” It’s not surprising, then, that a toxic work culture is a stronger predictor of layoffs during the pandemic than a desire for higher pay. This will likely continue to apply to workers even as the pandemic recedes.

The organizations that will win the post-pandemic competition for workers will be those that can demonstrate that they emerged from the pandemic with positive changes in their work culture. Pulling employees out of their pandemic midlife crisis requires the promise—or at least the likelihood—that their jobs can provide a more meaningful path forward.

Adam Galinsky is a professor at Columbia Business School. He is co-author of Friend & Foe. Laura Kray is a professor in the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and faculty director of the school’s Center for Equity, Gender and Leadership.

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Russia-Ukraine War and Putin News: Live Updates https://namiaz.org/russia-ukraine-war-and-putin-news-live-updates/ Fri, 13 May 2022 18:09:07 +0000 https://namiaz.org/russia-ukraine-war-and-putin-news-live-updates/ BRUSSELS – Russian President Vladimir V. Putin said stopping NATO expansion helped him invade Ukraine. But on Thursday, Finland unequivocally declared its intention to join, which not only turned Putin’s plan on its head but also put the alliance’s newest potential member on Russia’s northern doorstep.

The declaration by Finnish leaders that they will join NATO – with the expectation that neighboring Sweden would soon do the same – could now reshape a strategic balance in Europe that has prevailed for decades. It is the latest example of how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine 11 weeks ago backfired on Putin’s intentions.

Russia reacted angrily, with Putin’s chief spokesman Dmitry S. Peskov saying admitting Finland and Sweden to NATO would not make Europe any safer. Russia’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, seemed to go further and said in one Interview with a British news site that he posted on Twitter that the two Nordic countries as NATO members “become part of the enemy and bear all the risks”.

Finland, long known for such a relentless nonalignment that “Finlandization” became synonymous with neutrality, had signaled that Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine gave the Finns reason to join NATO. But on Thursday, Finland’s leaders publicly announced for the first time that they definitely intended to join, making it all but certain that Russia would share an 810-mile border with a NATO country.

The addition of Finland and Sweden to NATO carries a significant risk of raising the prospects of war between Russia and the West, in accordance with the alliance’s underlying principle that an attack on one is an attack on all.

Recognition…Alessandro Rampazzo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But Finnish leaders, President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin, said that “NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security,” adding that “Finland as a member of NATO would strengthen the overall defense alliance.”

Mr Putin has cited a number of reasons for his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but it was partly intended to block NATO’s eastward expansion and was based on a seemingly recalcitrant European response. Instead, the invasion unified the West and helped isolate Moscow.

With the likely redrawing of Europe’s security borders, Western officials also moved to reshape Europe’s economic infrastructure, taking steps to establish new transport routes out of Ukraine, which is under a Russian naval embargo. Russia, on the other hand, was further ostracized by the world economy when Siemens, the German electronics giant, became the latest company to pull out of Russia, retiring after 170 years of doing business there.

The European Union on Thursday announced a series of measures to ease Ukrainian exports of blocked food products, mostly grains and oilseeds, in a bid to ease the war’s strain on Ukraine’s economy and avert a looming global food shortage.

The Russian Navy has blocked exports from Ukraine — a key global supplier of wheat, corn and sunflower oil before the invasion — in the Black Sea country’s ports. The long-term goal of the European Commission, the bloc’s executive, is to set up new transport routes from Ukraine to Europe and bypass the Russian blockade by using Polish ports – although creating new routes could take months if not years.

Recognition…David Guttenfelder for the New York Times

On the ground in Ukraine, where the Russian invaders still face strong resistance from western-armed Ukrainian forces and the prospect of a prolonged war, the Kremlin redeployed troops to further its territorial gains in Donbass, the eastern region where the fighting was taking place , to strengthen fiercest.

Ukrainian and Western officials say Russia is withdrawing troops from around Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, where it has lost territory – a withdrawal the UK Defense Ministry on Thursday described as “tacit recognition of Russia’s inability to seize key Ukrainian cities.” , they denoted expected limited popular resistance.”

In the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, however, which together form the Donbass, the Russians now control around 80 percent of the territory. In Luhansk, where Russian shelling rarely abates, “the situation has deteriorated significantly in recent days,” according to regional governor Serhiy Haidai.

“The Russians are destroying everything in their path,” Mr Haidai said in a post on Telegram on Thursday. “The vast majority of critical infrastructure needs to be rebuilt,” he said, adding that there was no electricity, water, gas or cell phone service in the region to which most residents fled.

Russia’s withdrawal from Kharkiv represents one of the major setbacks Moscow has faced since withdrawing from areas near the capital Kyiv – where the cost of the Russian occupation became more apparent on Thursday.

The bodies of more than 1,000 civilians have been recovered in areas north of Kyiv occupied by Russian forces, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Thursday. Among them were several hundred who were summarily executed and others shot dead by snipers, Ms Bachelet said.

Recognition…Daniel Berehulak for the New York Times

“The numbers will continue to rise,” Ms Bachelet told a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, the second in two weeks, focusing on the abuses uncovered by investigators in Bucha, Irpin and other Kyiv suburbs that seized were used by Russia’s armed forces in the early stages of the invasion. Russia has denied committing any atrocities in Ukraine.

The announcement by Finnish leaders that they would apply for NATO membership was widely expected. Public opinion in Finland has clearly shifted in favor of joining the alliance, from 20 percent six months ago to almost 80 percent now, especially if Sweden, Finland’s strategic partner and also militarily non-aligned, also joins.

“Finland must immediately apply for NATO membership,” Finnish leaders said in a statement. “We hope that the national steps still necessary for this decision will be initiated quickly in the next few days.”

A parliamentary debate and vote was expected on Monday.

The debate in Sweden is less advanced than in Finland, but Sweden is also moving towards joining NATO, perhaps as early as next week.

Mr Putin has described NATO’s eastward expansion into Russia’s sphere of influence, including the former Soviet states on its borders, as a national threat. He has used Ukraine’s desire to join the alliance to justify his invasion of that country, although Western officials have repeatedly said the possibility of Ukrainian membership is slim.

One reason is that NATO would most likely offer membership to a country engaged in a war.

Recognition…Sergey Ponomarev for the New York Times

If Ukraine were to become a member of NATO, the alliance would be obliged to defend it against Russia and other adversaries, in accordance with the application of NATO’s Article 5 that an attack on one member is an attack on the entire alliance.

Even absent the geopolitical risks, Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that has struggled with endemic corruption since independence, would find it difficult to meet several necessary conditions for joining NATO, including the need to demonstrate a commitment to the rule of law.

Sweden and Finland, on the other hand, have developed into vibrant and healthy liberal democracies over the decades.

Still, if Finland and Sweden were attacked by Russia or others, NATO members would have to act, increasing the risk of a direct confrontation between nuclear powers.

Mr Putin would likely try to rally support for the invasion of Ukraine, presenting the moves by Finland and Sweden as new evidence that NATO is becoming increasingly hostile.

When Finland and Sweden apply, they are generally expected to be approved, although NATO officials are publicly discreet, saying only that the alliance has an open-door policy and any country wishing to join can apply for an invitation. Still, even a rushed application process could take a year, raising concerns that the two countries would be vulnerable to Russia if they are not part of the alliance.

Aside from a long border, Finland shares a complicated, violent history with Russia. The Finns repelled a Soviet invasion in 1939-40 in the so-called “Winter War”.

Recognition…Lynsey Addario for the New York Times

The Finns eventually lost, giving up some territories and agreeing to remain formally neutral during the Cold War, but their ability to temporarily hold off the Soviet Union became a focal point of Finnish pride.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Finland joined the European Union in 1992 and became a member in 1995, but remained militarily non-aligned and maintained working relations with Moscow.

Finland has maintained its military spending and sizable armed forces. Finland joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace program along with Sweden in 1994 and has steadily moved closer to the alliance without joining.

Steven Erlanger reported from Brussels and Norimitsu Onishi from Paris. Reporting was provided by Cora Engelbrecht from London, Nick Cumming-Bruce from Geneva, Ivan Nechepurenko from Tbilisi, Georgia, Monika Pronczuk from Brussels and Dan Bilefsky from Montreal.

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House Demos must share the blame for the border crisis https://namiaz.org/house-demos-must-share-the-blame-for-the-border-crisis/ Wed, 11 May 2022 23:35:49 +0000 https://namiaz.org/house-demos-must-share-the-blame-for-the-border-crisis/

Republicans hint at midterm election strategy as they spread blame for rising illegal immigration, migrant deaths and fentanyl smuggling on the southern border

EL PASO, Texas (Borders Report) — Leaders of the Republican House of Representatives and former Trump officials on Wednesday urged their Democratic counterparts to keep Title 42 to avoid further spikes in illegal immigration and to prevent deadly drugs like fentanyl from crossing the reach the border with Mexico.

They also accused the Biden administration of losing operational control as an estimated 700,000 people evaded border officials over the past 16 months. This is in addition to the more than 2 million documented encounters that resulted in migrants being either deported back to Mexico or released to the US with a mandatory order to appear in an immigration court.

“We allowed 2.5 million people into our country illegally who we caught. That’s bigger than the city of Houston, Texas. […] And, as mentioned, at least 700,000 escaped as far as we know. Dozens of people we caught were on the terrorist watch list, which begs the question how many more people who were not caught were on the terrorist watch list? said House Minority Whip US Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana.

GOP leaders and their guests reiterated allegations at an online press conference Wednesday that the president is pursuing an “open borders” policy that strengthens Mexican drug cartels and threatens national security. But they also blame their Democratic counterparts in an election year when political pundits say immigration and border security could sway some voters.

“We are also feeling this crisis in states like New York. Every state is a border state, every county is a border county,” said US Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York. “House Republicans remain determined to hold Democrats accountable for this disastrous failure. You have no country if you don’t have secure borders.”

U.S. Representative Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, added: “Often times people come to Washington and they’re going to whine, they’re going to complain about all the things that are wrong, and they’re going to blame the White House. We do not do that. […] This isn’t a Republican issue, it’s not a Democratic issue, it’s an American issue and it starts right here in Congress, it starts right here in the House of Representatives.”

Some former Trump officials, such as Mark Morgan, who was acting chief of US Customs and Border Protection, also weighed in.

“I’m confident that if we can get the right people in Congress who know that we should start talking about America, which is in the best interests of American citizens, we should […] It’s time to be honest with the American people, it’s time to get the issue across: It’s about border security, it’s about national security,” Morgan said.

The GOP attack is only likely to intensify as the election approaches, analysts say.

“Immigration is definitely going to be a midterm election issue this year,” said Richard Pineda, associate professor of communications at the University of Texas at El Paso. “The Biden administration probably has very good intentions on immigration, but I don’t think they built the infrastructure or had good policy goals.”

The administration has also struggled to clearly communicate its immigration goals, he said.

“Either Biden comes up with a very concrete plan, or this is the first step in a comprehensive immigration (reform) process. But right now, it’s unclear to most people what the administration is trying to do. It’s not clear how to measure effectiveness,” Pineda said.

And that adds to Americans’ concerns about inflation and a successful transition out of the COVID-19 crisis and economic recovery, he said.

In the absence of this, the GOP supporters will continue their attacks.

Current, former immigration officials say Biden endangers migrants

Republicans and their guests on Wednesday chastised Democrats for justifying the release of migrants under the guise of compassion when their actions allegedly attract more migration and put vulnerable women and children into the hands of drug cartels.

“We hear[border guards]saying phrases like ‘broken arrow’ all the time. That’s used when the last line of defense is overwhelmed, which means we’ve surrendered our southern border to the cartels,” Morgan said. “And what happens if we overwhelm our system with illegal immigration? 50, 60, 80 percent of our agents in some areas are being pulled from the front lines, pulled from their national security jobs, to be nothing more than travel agents for illegal immigrants.”

Other guests, including Brandon Judd, President of the National Border Patrol Council, said what some people see as compassion towards migrants actually contributes to their harassment.

“What we see today is not human, is not compassion. It is the empowerment of wealthy transnational criminal organizations that exploit and harass innocent women and children.” said Judd. “We see a government issuing policies that encourage women and children to put themselves in the hands of the most dangerous people on earth. These people rape, abuse and sometimes murder (them). And that’s because the policies of this government allow these cartels to enter countries around the world and advertise their services.”

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China: China accuses the US of testing its “red lines” and expanding NATO in the Indo-Pacific https://namiaz.org/china-china-accuses-the-us-of-testing-its-red-lines-and-expanding-nato-in-the-indo-pacific/ Sat, 07 May 2022 11:55:00 +0000 https://namiaz.org/china-china-accuses-the-us-of-testing-its-red-lines-and-expanding-nato-in-the-indo-pacific/ Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Le Yucheng accused the US of expanding NATO into the Indo-Pacific and “flexing its muscles on China’s doorstep,” saying on Friday that the Americans had been fueling the Taiwan issue over the years in order to to test the country’s “red line”.

The Chinese minister made the remarks during a speech at an online dialogue of global think tanks from 20 countries, Xinhua reported.

Le claimed that the US has been flexing its muscles on China’s doorstep for quite some time, forming exclusive groups against China and heating up the Taiwan issue to test China’s red line, the report said.

“If this isn’t an Asia-Pacific version of NATO’s eastward expansion, then what is? Such a strategy, if left unchecked, would have dire consequences and plunge the Asia-Pacific region over the brink of a cliff,” Le said.

The Chinese minister further claimed that China is committed to peaceful development and seeks harmony, solidarity and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, adding that China has never been a provocateur or troublemaker.

“It makes no sense to target China. Trying to copy and paste the Ukraine crisis in Asia-Pacific is doomed to failure,” Le said, according to Xinhua.

Referring to the ongoing war in Ukraine and China’s position on the conflict, Le said that some people had misinterpreted the words of the recent joint statement between China and Russia and “friendship has no borders and cooperation has no forbidden areas” in order to mean that China had “prior knowledge” of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine and even “approved” it.

“This is absurd,” Le said, adding that China is not involved in the conflict, let alone the one that caused it. So how could China be responsible?

“The truth is that China wants friendly relations with all countries, and we never set limits on cooperation, nor see the need for it,” he said.

China has come under pressure from Western countries, particularly the US, for its tactical support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the continuation of trade deals and its refusal to condemn Russian actions.

A few days ago, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Beijing to “unambiguously condemn” Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“China should join the rest of the world in strongly condemning Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. China, as a member of the UN Security Council, has an obligation to effectively support and uphold international law, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a flagrant violation of international law,” Stoltenberg reportedly said.

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Expanding access to mental health support for health and social service workers https://namiaz.org/expanding-access-to-mental-health-support-for-health-and-social-service-workers/ Fri, 06 May 2022 18:00:35 +0000 https://namiaz.org/expanding-access-to-mental-health-support-for-health-and-social-service-workers/

Health care and community social services workers across British Columbia will have access to more mental health support as the province expands tailored programs for the sector.

The BC Government has invested $735,000 to expand Care to Speak and Care for Caregivers – two unique programs that provide online peer support and targeted educational resources for healthcare and community social services workers. As of 2020, the two services have reached more than 76,000 workers.

“We have never asked for more from our healthcare workers as BC continues to battle two public health emergencies,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Secretary of State for Mental Health and Addiction. “Our government is expanding mental health support via phone, text and virtual chat for those working in healthcare and social services so the people the people of British Columbia rely on can continue to help others.”

Through this investment, the Care to Speak service will be able to increase availability and opportunities for long-term and permanent care healthcare professionals to connect with peers who have experience in the sector and have been trained in active listening and can provide psychological support. Workers can also visit the Care for Caregivers website to access up-to-date and tailored educational resources, including workshops for those who work in healthcare.

“Many health care and community social services workers have experienced distress, anxiety, grief, depression and trauma in responding to the emergencies of COVID-19 and poisoned drugs,” said Jonny Morris, CEO of the BC Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association . “Care to Speak provides free, confidential emotional support through people who receive it and provides a bridge to other services such as the province’s Mobile Response Team. If you are a caregiver, contact support. If you know someone who is, share this resource and show that you care.”

Care to Speak is available Monday to Friday from 5pm to 9pm, with additional hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10am to 2pm

Improving mental health support is an integral part of A Pathway to Hope, BC’s roadmap to building the comprehensive mental health and addiction support system that British Columbians deserve.

Quotes:

Saleema Dhalla, CEO, SafeCare BC Health and Safety Association –

“Healthcare workers across BC have looked after us during the pandemic. You work in a challenging and stressful environment. We owe it to them to ensure not only their physical safety but also their psychological well-being. We know that Care for Caregivers and Care to Speak are filling an important need for medical workers and we are pleased that this extremely important service will continue.”

dr Yuet Ting Ma, PharmD, RPh, Care to Speak Peer –

“As a healthcare provider working in the mental health and addiction space, I believe Care to Speak is a great resource available to healthcare and social workers to seek peer support. This pandemic has taken a massive toll on everyone’s mental health, especially healthcare providers. I am truly honored to be a part of this program as a volunteer and to support others on their mental health journey.”

Monika Salgado, Care to Speak Peer –

“While there are other hotlines, the Care to Speak program was created to support individuals in health and social care. With both my mother and sister working as nurses and myself in community service, I never thought that helpers needed help until I discovered Care to Speak. Being a peer support volunteer has impacted my life in so many positive ways. I gained a new level of confidence and it taught me to be more compassionate towards others. I appreciate the new skills I’ve picked up since I started volunteering and the best part is being able to make a difference in our communities.”

Learn more:

Learn more about A Pathway to Hope, the BC provincial government’s vision for mental health and addiction services: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021MMHA0049-001787

Care for Caregivers and Care to Speak: https://www.careforcaregivers.ca/
Peer Support Toll-Free Line: 1.866.802-7337 (PEER)

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The pros and cons of buying supermarket own brand groceries | money https://namiaz.org/the-pros-and-cons-of-buying-supermarket-own-brand-groceries-money/ Wed, 04 May 2022 20:11:00 +0000 https://namiaz.org/the-pros-and-cons-of-buying-supermarket-own-brand-groceries-money/

Government critics have echoed comments from Environment Secretary George Eustice, who suggested that by buying quality food, people could help alleviate the cost of living crisis.

Opponents pointed out that this would hardly scratch the surface when energy bills have risen by 54% and the most vulnerable are already buying the cheapest food.

For many durable ranges, supermarkets offer several options, including increasingly a private label version and a cheaper value range.

Financially there is a lot to be gained by moving from a branded product to a supermarket own brand, and even more by switching to the value assortment.

But there are pros and cons to buying store-brand groceries. And, according to nutritionists, often cheaper does mean a loss of quality.

Baked beans

Take a can of baked beans you bought at Sainsbury’s, for example. Online, the supermarket charges £1 for a two-serving can of Heinz Beanz. The Sainsbury’s own version is 35p and the Hubbard’s Foodstore line is 21p.

The cans look directly comparable, but they are not: While Heinz’s weighs 415 g, the other two weigh 400 g each. But even if you take that difference out, the cost savings are big: Heinz is £2.41 per kg, Hubbard’s is 53p.

Even in the can, not everything is the same. In this case, Heinz and Sainsbury’s both boast 51% beans, but Hubbard’s can is 45%. That’s 212g from Heinz and 180g from Hubbard’s.

For a product where top pricing is a better match, the savings could be eaten up if you have to buy an additional pack to get what you actually need. However, the price difference is so big that in this case you could buy two of the cheapest and still make a big saving.

The other parts of the ingredients list are also worth comparing. Inexpensive products need some sort of topping up, and with beans, the sauce makes up more of the mix to keep costs down. A big part of the difference can be water – it’s the third ingredient in all products. Vinegar was used by Heinz but skipped in both budget versions.

rice pudding

At Morrisons, their best-known rice pudding brand, Ambrosia, is offered in two cans for £1.60, while the Morrisons Savers version is sold at 20p. Both are only 9% rice, but water is on the cheaper product’s ingredient list (second only to skim milk), while Ambrosia is 72% milk and lists whole milk as the top ingredient. This means it contains a lot more fat (4.4g serving compared to 1.4g in the cheap line).

In some cases, cheaper lines perform better than their better-known competitors in taste tests.

chocolate distribution

Which? has published a list of named brands that have been beaten by price ranges in their reviews – Lidl chocolate spread, Choco Nussa, costs £1.09 for a 400g jar (27p per 100g) versus £2.90 for 350g Nutella (83p per 100g) and was rated higher by tasters. It also has less sugar and saturated fat in each serving.

jam

Another household favorite to be beaten by a budget version is Marmite – Which? taste testers scored 65% but gave Aldi’s Mighty Yeast Extract a 75%. The low-cost retailer charges £1.69 for 240g (70p per 100g), while Marmite is normally £2.49 for 250g (£1 per 100g).

Caroline Hind, nutritionist at Vitaminology, says some Value versions of products “have more sugar, processed oils, and starchy fillers that are nutrient poor and make a terrible choice for people managing weight or at risk of diabetes.”

Sugar can be hard to spot, she says, when labeled as syrup or with unfamiliar names.

The latter applies to beans. Hubbard’s version contains glucose-fructose syrup, which some studies have shown is worse for the liver than regular sugar. Aldi’s inexpensive beans have the same thing, and one of the stock lines also contains maltodextrin, another substitute for more expensive refined sugar.

But the nutritional benefits don’t all go in one direction: sometimes it’s better to trade less. Let’s say you’re trying to reduce fat in your diet – sometimes the fillers in high-quality products literally dilute it.

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What happened on day 68 of the war in Ukraine https://namiaz.org/what-happened-on-day-68-of-the-war-in-ukraine/ Tue, 03 May 2022 05:00:00 +0000 https://namiaz.org/what-happened-on-day-68-of-the-war-in-ukraine/ ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine — Ukrainian civilians evacuated from the devastated city of Mariupol brought fresh reports of survival and terror on Monday as Western nations worked to implement their increasingly expansive aid promises and billions of dollars in military and oil embargo prepared for economic aid and other once unthinkable moves.

Despite the early morning shelling, the evacuation, supervised by the Red Cross and the United Nations, was seen as the best and possibly last hope for hundreds of civilians trapped for weeks in bunkers under the rubble of the Azovstal Steelworks. and an unknown number scattered among the ruins of the mostly abandoned city.

Those trapped outside the steelworks at Mariupol described a fragile existence subsisting on Russian rations cooked outside on wood fires amid daily shelling that left bodies in ruins.

Yelena Gibert, a psychologist who arrived in Ukraine on Monday with her teenage son, described “hopelessness and despair” in Mariupol and said residents “began to talk about suicide because they are stuck in this situation.”

Heavy fighting in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk has brought minimal gains to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces, Western officials say. But the Russians continued to fire rockets and shells at Ukrainian military positions, cities, towns and infrastructure along a 300-mile front, including bombing the Azovstal plant, where the last remaining Ukrainian fighters huddle in Mariupol.

Recognition…Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

On Monday, Ukraine said it had used Turkish-made drones destroy two Russian patrol ships outside the Black Sea port of Odessa just before Russian missiles hit the city, causing an unknown number of casualties and damage to a religious building.

The US State Department said Russia’s war aims now include the annexation of Donetsk and Luhansk, which were partially controlled prior to the February 24 invasion by Russian-backed separatists, and possibly the southern Kherson region as well.

“We think the Kremlin might try to hold sham referendums to try and add a veneer of democratic legitimacy or electoral legitimacy, and that’s straight out of the Kremlin’s playbook,” said Michael Carpenter, the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Safety Cooperation in Europe , told reporters at a State Department briefing in Washington.

As the war drags on and evidence of atrocities mounts, the West’s appetite has grown for retaliation that a few months ago would have been flatly denied. The US Senate is preparing to host President Biden’s $33 billion aid package to Ukraine, including a significant increase in heavy weapons, and the European Union is expected to impose an embargo on Russian oil this week, a significant step for a bloc whose members have done so has long depended on Russian energy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw on Monday to strengthen Washington’s partnership with a key NATO ally that has absorbed millions of Ukrainian refugees and helped bring guns to the battlefield bring.

Recognition…Tomasz Gzell/EPO, via Shutterstock

Ms Pelosi called for the “strongest possible military response, the strongest sanctions” to punish Russia for the invasion, despite Moscow’s threats of retaliatory action against the West. “They have already fulfilled their threat that killed children and families, civilians and the rest,” she said.

More than two months into the invasion, Russia is struggling to gain and hold territory, according to a senior Pentagon official, who briefed reporters on the background to discuss intelligence information. The official called Russia’s recent offensive in eastern Ukraine, the region known as Donbass, “very cautious, very lukewarm” and in some cases “anaemic”.

“We are seeing minimal progress at best,” the official said Monday, citing incremental Russian advances in towns and villages. “They will march in, declare victory, and then withdraw their troops only to let the Ukrainians take over.”

British Defense Intelligence said that of the 120 tactical battalion groups Russia deployed during the war – about 65 percent of its total ground combat forces – more than a quarter were likely “disabled”.

Some of Russia’s most elite units, including the airborne troops, have “suffered the highest levels of attrition.” said the British reviewadding that it would “probably take years for Russia to rebuild these forces”.

As fighting raged in eastern and southern Ukraine, Moscow faced a growing diplomatic backlash on Monday after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Jews were “the biggest anti-Semites”.

Recognition…David Guttenfelder for the New York Times

Mr Lavrov made the comments on Sunday to an Italian TV journalist who had asked him why Russia claimed it was “denazifying” Ukraine, even though its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was Jewish and members of his family had been killed in the Holocaust.

Mr Lavrov responded that he thought Hitler himself had Jewish roots, a claim dismissed by historians, adding: “For a long time we have heard the wise Jews say that the greatest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry invited the Russian ambassador to Israel to clarify Mr Lavrov’s remarks, while Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid demanded an apology. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said of Mr Lavrov’s remarks: “The aim of such lies is to accuse the Jews of even the most horrible crimes in history that have been committed against them.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, Majority Leader and the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the United States, called Lavrov’s comments “disgusting.”

Those who escaped Mariupol and reached the southern city of Zaporizhia had managed to survive in a Russian-held city devastated by intense shelling, where Ukrainian officials say more than 20,000 civilians were killed. About 20 civilians hiding under Azovstal Mill left the city on Saturday, about 100 on Sunday and an unknown number followed on Monday.

Every morning around 6 a.m., Ms Gibert said, residents lined up outside the factory for rations, which were distributed by Russian soldiers. First they had to hear the Russian national anthem and then the anthem of Ukraine’s separatist region known as the Donetsk People’s Republic, she said.

Recognition…Lynsey Addario for the New York Times

A number was scrawled on each resident’s hand there, and then they sometimes waited all day to receive boxes of groceries, Ms Gibert said. A typical grocery box contained macaroni, rice, oatmeal, canned meat, sweet and condensed milk, sugar, and butter. It was meant to last a month but didn’t always – especially when shared with a teenager, Ms Gibert said.

In a city where many residential buildings have been destroyed and what remains lacks electricity, heat or, most often, running water, Ms. Gibert said she and her son were among the lucky ones.

“Our apartment is still partially intact,” she said. “On the one hand, we all have our windows.”

Anastasiya Dembitskaya, 35, who arrived in Zaporizhzhia with her two children and a dog, said a drop in fighting in Mariupol in recent weeks has allowed erratic phone service to return and small markets to open selling food from Russia and from Russia controlled Ukrainians are sold territory at stratospheric prices.

“They have started at least removing the trash, which is good,” Ms Dembitskaya said. “The bodies and the garbage and the wires that were lying around.”

Ksenia Safonova, who also arrived in Zaporizhia, said that she and her parents had planned to leave Mariupol weeks ago but were pinned down by rocket fire.

“As we tried to leave, intense shelling started,” she said. “Everything exploded. Jets flew overhead and it was too scary to leave.”

When food ran out, she said, her family had to rely on rations handed out by the Russian troops. She pulled out a can of tinned meat, which she said was part of a Russian humanitarian aid package. The expiry date was January 31, nearly a month before the invasion began.

Recognition…Lynsey Addario for the New York Times

Ms Safonova and her family were finally able to leave Mariupol on April 26 in a minibus with six other people. At checkpoints on the way to Zaporizhia, she said, Russian soldiers insulted her and her family and warned that Ukrainian forces would not welcome them and would fire upon them upon arrival.

At one point, she said, the soldiers tried to get her to reveal her loyalty to Ukraine.

“At one checkpoint, they shouted ‘Glory to Ukraine’ to see if we would shout ‘Glory to Heroes’, although of course we knew it would end badly,” she said, referring to a patriotic greeting among Ukrainians is widespread during the war.

“We still know that the truth is on our side,” she said.

Michael Schwartz reported from Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, and Michael Levenson from New York. Reporting was contributed by Lara Jake and Eric Schmitt from Washington, Myra Noveck from Jerusalem, Markus Santora from Kraków, Poland, Monika Pronczuk from Brussels and Matthew Mpoke Bigg from London.

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Pelosi leads delegation to Kyiv and Poland; promises US support https://namiaz.org/pelosi-leads-delegation-to-kyiv-and-poland-promises-us-support/ Sun, 01 May 2022 11:30:31 +0000 https://namiaz.org/pelosi-leads-delegation-to-kyiv-and-poland-promises-us-support/

A US Congressional delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi commended the courage of the Ukrainian people in remarks during a visit to Poland on Sunday, a day after a surprise trip to Kyiv to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

US lawmakers assessed Ukraine’s needs for the next phase of the war, with Pelosi promising Washington would stand by the country until it defeats Russia.

Pelosi, a California Democrat who is second in line to the presidency after the vice president, was the oldest American lawmaker to visit Ukraine since Russia’s war began more than two months ago. Her previously unannounced visit came just days after Moscow bombed the Ukrainian capital while the UN Secretary-General was there.

Pelosi and half a dozen U.S. lawmakers met with Zelenskyy and his top aides for three hours late Saturday for a first-hand assessment of the war effort so far. Speaking to reporters in Poland on Sunday, delegation members unanimously commended Ukraine’s defense to date, portrayed a good versus evil fight and pledged continued long-term US military, humanitarian and economic support.

“We were proud to deliver to him the message of unity from the United States Congress, a message of appreciation from the American people for his leadership and admiration from the Ukrainian people for his courage,” Pelosi said.

Her visit comes two days after US President Joe Biden asked Congress for $33 billion to bolster Ukraine’s fight against Russia, more than double the original $13.6 billion bailout that was announced enacted by Congress early last month and which is now almost exhausted. As the war drags into its third month, the move was intended to signal Russian President Vladimir Putin that US arms and other forms of support were not going away.

“This is a time when we stand for democracy or allow autocracy to rule the day,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks, a Democrat from New York.

“This is a fight of liberty against tyranny,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California. “And in this fight, Ukraine is at the forefront.”

Rep. Jason Crow, a Colorado Democrat, a veteran and a member of the House Intelligence and Armed Services Committee, said he came to Ukraine with three priorities: “guns, guns and guns.”

“We have to make sure that the Ukrainians have what they need to win. What we have seen over the past two months is their ferocity, their intense pride, their ability to fight and their ability to win when they have the support to do so.”

“The United States of America wants to win and we will stand by Ukraine until victory is achieved,” he added.

The full congressional delegation included Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee; Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Chair of the House Rules Committee; Crow, Barbara Lee of California; and Bill Keating of Massachusetts.

“You are all welcome,” Zelenskyi told the delegation, according to a video of the meeting released by his office.

Pelosi told Zelenskyy, “We believe we are visiting you to thank you for your fight for freedom.”

“We are on a frontier of freedom and your fight is a fight for all. Our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is over,” Pelosi added.

The delegation continued its journey in south-eastern Poland, and members later visited the capital, Warsaw, to meet with President Andrzej Duda and other senior officials. Poland has taken in more than 3 million refugees from Ukraine since Russia started its war on February 24.

“We look forward to thanking our Polish allies for their dedication and humanitarian efforts,” Pelosi said.

At a news conference in Poland, Pelosi said she and others in the delegation applauded the courage of the Ukrainian people. She added that the delegation brought Zelenskyy “a message of gratitude from the American people for his leadership.”

McGovern said Russia’s war has implications far beyond Ukraine and said it is exacerbating a food crisis that would be disastrous for poor people around the world.

“Putin’s brutal war is no longer just a war against the Ukrainian people,” McGovern said. “It is also a war against the world’s most vulnerable.”

He added that Ukraine is a “bread basket of the world”.

“I don’t think Putin cares if he’s starving the world,” McGovern said.

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A previous version of this story has been corrected to show that Pelosi is second in the presidency, not third.

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More AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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Amazon and Google close out their worst months on Wall Street since 2008 https://namiaz.org/amazon-and-google-close-out-their-worst-months-on-wall-street-since-2008/ Fri, 29 Apr 2022 21:17:49 +0000 https://namiaz.org/amazon-and-google-close-out-their-worst-months-on-wall-street-since-2008/

Getty Images; Chris Ratcliff | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Stocks of Amazon and Google parent Alphabet have just completed their steepest monthly declines since the 2008 financial crisis.

The internet giants both reported weaker-than-expected quarterly results this week, weighed down by a combination of macroeconomic factors, the war in Ukraine and harsh comparisons to blowout numbers during the pandemic.

Amazon plunged 23.8% in April, the biggest drop since its 25.4% plunge in November 2008, the same month that Google plunged 18.5%. Alphabet had its worst month since that time, falling 18% in April.

In the early months of 2022, investors have retreated from the technology sector on fears of rising inflation and higher interest rates. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, the subsequent rise in fuel prices and persistent labor shortages have begun to hurt corporate profits.

The last time Amazon and Google saw this kind of sell-off was in the midst of the global financial crisis, when record levels of borrowers defaulted on home loans and many of the top financial institutions went bust. Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, followed by a series of major Wall Street bailouts.

Tech stocks have been wiped out across the board. The Nasdaq fell 11% in November after plummeting 18% in October.

It’s been a mixed bag for the Big Tech class so far this results season. Facebook reported better-than-expected earnings despite missing out on revenue, and told investors second-quarter sales could be down year-over-year. Apple beat expectations but scared investors after it warned that supply shortages could hurt sales in the current quarter.

On Thursday, Amazon issued weak current-quarter guidance, and growth rates stagnated at their lowest since the dot-com bust in 2001. Earlier in the week, Google missed out on revenue and profit and reported a big loss in its YouTube segment, where The Revenue increased just 14%.

While both stocks have suffered so far this year, their price developments have diverged significantly in 2021. Alphabet was the best-performing big tech stock of the year, up 68%. Amazon was the bottom performer, up 2.4%.

WATCH: There’s not much confidence in tech stocks right now, says Jefferies’ Brent Thill

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