Seattle government – Seattle WTO http://seattlewto.org/ Fri, 20 May 2022 01:58:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://seattlewto.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/icon-3-120x120.png Seattle government – Seattle WTO http://seattlewto.org/ 32 32 Qualtrics’ New Community Pulse Helps Local Government Leaders Engage Residents in Empathetic and Accessible Ways https://seattlewto.org/qualtrics-new-community-pulse-helps-local-government-leaders-engage-residents-in-empathetic-and-accessible-ways/ Thu, 19 May 2022 12:30:00 +0000 https://seattlewto.org/qualtrics-new-community-pulse-helps-local-government-leaders-engage-residents-in-empathetic-and-accessible-ways/ PROVO, Utah and SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Qualtrics (Nasdaq: XM), the leader and creator of the experience management (XM) category, today announced Community Pulse, a new way for state and local governments to use technology to understand and respond to the experiences of their constituents. Local governments have survived a myriad of challenges over the past two years, […]]]>

PROVO, Utah and SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Qualtrics (Nasdaq: XM), the leader and creator of the experience management (XM) category, today announced Community Pulse, a new way for state and local governments to use technology to understand and respond to the experiences of their constituents.

Local governments have survived a myriad of challenges over the past two years, and the pandemic has made many residents expect a digital way to connect with city, county, and state leaders. Community Pulse provides an accessible and inclusive solution to collect and act on resident feedback, improve trust and transparency, and help government officials build more equitable, inclusive, and welcoming communities.

Community engagement is essential to the ability of governments to compassionately develop policies, plans and programs that make the best use of taxpayers’ dollars. But reaching a representative sample of residents is a challenge. And understanding and analyzing community needs, feelings and expectations strains already limited agency resources.

The Community Pulse solution makes it easy for governments to understand how their residents feel about trust and satisfaction with their government; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB); and quality of life – and understanding the factors behind them.

“Residents have opinions about government programs that affect them,” said Sydney Heimbrock, senior industry adviser for government at Qualtrics. “Bringing together a wide range of community contributions and directing resources to activities that meet real needs creates a healthy feedback and action loop.

Build public trust by listening to residents and acting on their feedback

Community Pulse is a set of 27 questions built by government industry experts and XM scientists. It includes a preconfigured dashboard to display important metrics for government agencies. With six pre-designed views – Executive Summary; analysis of community needs; Satisfaction with public services; diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging; text topic analysis; and respondent demographics – the Community Pulse dashboard provides real-time insights, making it easier than ever to collect and act on feedback.

For government agencies undertaking strategic planning, the solution helps them model how the resident experience may vary based on location, age, ethnicity, and other key demographics. With the ability to capture answers to open-ended questions and apply intelligent analytics, leaders can see trends and act on what matters most to residents.

By enabling governments to effectively engage the community and develop resident-centered policies, plans and programs, leaders are better able to have a meaningful, positive and lasting impact:

  • Improve residents’ trust in government

  • Improve government transparency

  • Increase adoption of equity and inclusion best practices

  • Build relationships with community leaders and the community at large

  • Ensure an inclusive and welcoming community

“Strong community engagement programs combine a culture of listening to residents, program best practices, and accessible technology to meet people where they are,” Heimbrock said. “The Community Pulse solution was designed for government with industry-validated methodology and best practices. Building trust in government here begins with raising the voice of citizens. »

Local authorities show the way

Kent County, Michigan, and the City of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, are among more than 350 state, provincial, and local government organizations and 90 federal offices that partner with Qualtrics to improve the community experience.

The pandemic has prompted Kent County, Michigan to expand community engagement efforts faster than it otherwise would have. County government officials were making real-time decisions about residents, and at the same time the community was seeking information and access to public health services. Qualtrics has become a key source of information for the county’s COVID response efforts. County leaders are now incorporating valuable lessons learned with Qualtrics to improve their approach to community engagement.

“One of the important lessons we’ve learned from the pandemic is that the way we communicate with a constituency isn’t always successful for everyone,” said Kent County communications director Lori Latham. “It took time and intention, but we’re reaching more people, our response rates are increasing, and our relationship with the community is improving. The key to building trust was what happened after the heartbeat – taking action based on resident recommendations and communicating with the community so they felt heard.

The City of Kitchener in Ontario, Canada uses Qualtrics to collect data and continuously improve services to residents.

“Engaging with the public is an important part of our City of Service Priority culture,” said Christine Baker, Customer Experience Manager for the City of Kitchener. “Our feedback collection program allows us to hear directly from our customers after they have interacted with us to learn more about our performance and to better understand what they think of our programs and services. The feedback we collect helps us prioritize our work so we can make targeted improvements to enhance the customer experience. »

To learn more about Community Pulse, see here: https://www.qualtrics.com/marketplace/community-pulse/

About Qualtrics XM for Government

Qualtrics XM for Government helps design experiences that build public trust and foster community engagement by putting people at the center of every government experience. XM for Government helps create more inclusive and effective services, programs and policies. Qualtrics provides the most comprehensive platform for strategic experience management, helping government organizations collect feedback on every touchpoint and journey, streamline workflows, and automate actions to continuously improve the experience communities and employees. Qualtrics is the only ISO 27001, FedRAMP-compliant, and HITRUST-certified experience management platform on the market, so organizations can collect and analyze data with confidence knowing that sensitive information is secure. Solutions are used by more than 350 state, provincial and local government organizations and 90 federal offices to harness the power of resident and employee sentiment to shape policies and deliver services the public needs most. To learn more, visit qualtrics.com/government.

About Qualtrics

Qualtrics, the leader and creator of the Experience Management (XM) category, is changing the way organizations manage and improve the four core experiences of business: customer, employee, product, and brand. More than 16,750 organizations around the world use Qualtrics to listen, understand and act on experiential data (X-data™) – the beliefs, emotions and intentions that tell you why things happen and what happens. have to do about it. The Qualtrics XM Platform™ is an action system that helps companies attract customers who stay longer and buy more, engage employees who create a positive culture, develop breakthrough products people love, and build a brand that excites them. To learn more, visit qualtrics.com.

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Mali government says it foiled counter-coup attempt https://seattlewto.org/mali-government-says-it-foiled-counter-coup-attempt/ Mon, 16 May 2022 22:18:00 +0000 https://seattlewto.org/mali-government-says-it-foiled-counter-coup-attempt/ BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Mali’s government led by a double putschist announced late Monday that security forces had foiled an attempted counter-coup that it said was backed by an unnamed Western government. The announcement was the latest turmoil to unfold in Mali, where Colonel Assimi Goita led coups in 2020 and 2021 before becoming president […]]]>

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Mali’s government led by a double putschist announced late Monday that security forces had foiled an attempted counter-coup that it said was backed by an unnamed Western government.

The announcement was the latest turmoil to unfold in Mali, where Colonel Assimi Goita led coups in 2020 and 2021 before becoming president of the West African nation.

The press release did not name the country it accused. However, relations with the former French colonizer deteriorated significantly under Goita’s rule, prompting the French military to begin a withdrawal of its forces which had spent nine years fighting Islamic extremists.

“These soldiers were supported by a Western state,” said the statement signed by government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga.

“The government of the Republic of Mali condemns with the utmost rigor this disgraceful attack on state security, the purpose of which is to hinder – even to annihilate – the substantial efforts to secure our country and return to a constitutional order guaranteeing peace and stability. “, continues the press release.

The government press release, also read by Maiga on state television, gave few details but said security forces put down the coup last Wednesday night. He added that security had been tightened at checkpoints on roads leaving the capital, Bamako, in a bid to catch the accomplices.

Accusations of foreign interference come as Goita’s regime becomes increasingly isolated. A day earlier, the government spokesman announced that Mali was withdrawing from a five-nation regional security force known as the G5.

And last month he announced he was permanently suspending French media outlets Radio France International and France 24, two of the most listened to news outlets in the West African country. Malian authorities have accused RFI and France 24 of publishing false reports on abuses committed by Malian soldiers.

Mali’s government has also accused the French military of violating the country’s airspace and denounced what it called the unauthorized use of surveillance drones. The allegations came after France released videos appearing to show Russian mercenaries burying bodies near a military base in northern Mali, which had been handed over by the French to Malian forces.

France and other countries strongly condemned the August 2020 overthrow of the democratically elected President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Nine months later, Goita launched a second coup when he sacked the country’s interim civilian rulers and became president himself.

While the junta initially agreed to an 18-month transition to civilian rule, it failed to hold elections by the February deadline. Last month, the government said it would need another two years in office before it could hold a vote.

___

Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal, contributed to this report.

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Duwamish Tribe Announces Lawsuit Against U.S. Federal Government – ​​KIRO 7 News Seattle https://seattlewto.org/duwamish-tribe-announces-lawsuit-against-u-s-federal-government-kiro-7-news-seattle/ Wed, 11 May 2022 19:13:02 +0000 https://seattlewto.org/duwamish-tribe-announces-lawsuit-against-u-s-federal-government-kiro-7-news-seattle/ VIDEO: Duwamish Tribe Files Complaint Against US Federal Government The Duwamish Tribe announced plans to file a lawsuit this week against the U.S. federal government to secure their tribal sovereignty, according to a press release from the tribe. According to the Duwamish Tribe, the United States made promises in the Treaty of Point Elliott, signed […]]]>

VIDEO: Duwamish Tribe Files Complaint Against US Federal Government

The Duwamish Tribe announced plans to file a lawsuit this week against the U.S. federal government to secure their tribal sovereignty, according to a press release from the tribe.

According to the Duwamish Tribe, the United States made promises in the Treaty of Point Elliott, signed by Chief Seattle in 1855, 167 years ago.

The Treaty of Point Elliott was a land settlement treaty between the U.S. government and Native American tribes in the Puget Sound area.

It was signed on January 22, 1855, in Mukilteo by Chief Seattle, Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens, and representatives of the Duwamish, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, Lummi, Skagit, and Swinomish tribes.

The Suquamish Port Madison, Tulalip, Swinomish, and Lummi reservations were established as a result of the treaty, excluding the Duwamish and other tribes who signed the treaty.

The settlers believed that the treaty forced the Duwamish to move on to reservations established for other tribes, most of whom were enemies of the Duwamish.

The Duwamish Tribe believe the signed treaty promised federal recognition of the tribe.

The continued denial of federal recognition has led to the denial of federal support for health, education and poverty programs, according to the tribe.

The more than 600 members of the Duwamish tribe said they continued to survive and thrive despite recognition.

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition for federal recognition, signaling momentum for their cause.

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Report lists abuse of Native American children in former public schools https://seattlewto.org/report-lists-abuse-of-native-american-children-in-former-public-schools/ Wed, 11 May 2022 18:59:40 +0000 https://seattlewto.org/report-lists-abuse-of-native-american-children-in-former-public-schools/ An initial survey commissioned by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland documented some of the brutal conditions Native American children endured in more than 400 boarding schools the federal government forced them to attend between 1819 and 1969. The survey was a first step, Haaland said, toward addressing the “intergenerational trauma” left behind by politics. A Home […]]]>

An initial survey commissioned by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland documented some of the brutal conditions Native American children endured in more than 400 boarding schools the federal government forced them to attend between 1819 and 1969. The survey was a first step, Haaland said, toward addressing the “intergenerational trauma” left behind by politics.

A Home Office report released on Wednesday highlighted the mistreatment of many children in public schools, such as beatings, starvation and solitary confinement. It also identified burial sites at more than 50 of the former schools, a number the department says will increase as the review continues.

The report is the first step in a comprehensive review that Haaland, the first Native American Cabinet Secretary, announced in June after the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves of children who attended similar schools in Canada sparked a national toll there. .

The initial investigation found that “approximately 19 federal Indian residential schools accounted for more than 500 Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian child deaths.” That number is expected to rise, according to the report.

From 1869 until the 1960s, hundreds of thousands of Native American children were taken from their homes and families and placed in boarding schools, run by the government and churches.

There were 20,000 children in schools in 1900; by 1925 the number had more than tripled, according to the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.

The discovery of unmarked graves in Canada last year – 215 in British Columbia, 750 more in Saskatchewan – led Haaland to announce that his agency would excavate the grounds of former schools in the United States and identify the remains. Haaland’s grandparents attended such schools.

“The consequences of federal policies on Indian boarding schools – including the intergenerational trauma caused by family separation and cultural eradication inflicted on generations of children as young as 4 years old – are heartbreaking and undeniable,” Haaland said. in a press release. “My priority is not only to give voice to survivors and descendants of federal residential school policies, but also to address the lasting legacies of these policies so that Indigenous peoples can continue to grow and heal. »

The 106-page report, written by Bryan Newland, the agency’s assistant secretary for Indian affairs, concludes that further investigation is needed to better understand the lasting effects of the boarding school system on American Indians, Native Alaskans and Native Hawaiians.

The government has yet to provide a forum or opportunity for survivors or descendants of boarding school survivors or their families to describe their experiences in the schools. In an attempt to assimilate Native American children, schools gave them English names, cut their hair, and prohibited them from speaking their language and practicing their religion or cultural traditions.

Haaland also announced plans for a year-long tour across the country called The Road to Healing, during which survivors of the boarding school system could share their stories.

The Canadian government has launched similar efforts and has allocated approximately 320 million Canadian dollars (approximately $246 million) to communities affected by the residential school system, searches for burial sites and memorialization of victims.

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Duwamish tribe prepares to sue federal government to secure tribal sovereignty https://seattlewto.org/duwamish-tribe-prepares-to-sue-federal-government-to-secure-tribal-sovereignty/ Tue, 10 May 2022 21:14:43 +0000 https://seattlewto.org/duwamish-tribe-prepares-to-sue-federal-government-to-secure-tribal-sovereignty/ Details By Kelsey Turner May 10, 2022 The Duwamish tribe has lived in the Seattle area since time immemorial. Although the tribe signed the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855 creating a government-to-government relationship with the United States, it is still not recognized at the federal level. This week, the Duwamish Tribe plans to file […]]]>

The Duwamish tribe has lived in the Seattle area since time immemorial. Although the tribe signed the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855 creating a government-to-government relationship with the United States, it is still not recognized at the federal level. This week, the Duwamish Tribe plans to file a lawsuit against the US federal government to defend their tribal sovereignty.

“From 1859, when the Treaty of Point Elliott was ratified, until at least 2001, Congress and other federal authorities unambiguously recognized the Duwamish Tribe,” the tribe wrote in a media advisory Tuesday. “Yet today, the US Department of the Interior refuses to officially recognize the Duwamish Tribe in violation of the US Constitution and other federal laws.”

The lawsuit will be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. After filing the lawsuit, the legal team representing the tribe will summarize the case for federal recognition during an event at the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center in Seattle at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. Speakers at the event include Duwamish Tribe Chairperson Cecile Hansen, Duwamish Tribal Council members and tribal attorneys, among others. Attendees can also join the event virtually on Zoom by registering here.

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“In the absence of federal recognition, funding, and social services, Duwamish Tribal Services has struggled to provide many social, educational, health, and cultural programs,” the tribe states on its website. The tribe, which has more than 600 registered members, adds that “many more” Duwamish have chosen not to register, enrolling instead in federally recognized tribes that provide health and other services. human services.

More than 100,000 people have signed the Duwamish Tribe’s petition for federal recognition. “Momentum has been building publicly and politically in support of restoring federal recognition,” the media advisory said.

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Our short stories are free to read for everyone, but they are not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to donate this month to support our efforts. Any contribution – large or small – helps us to remain a force for change in Indian Country and to continue to tell the stories that are so often ignored, erased or neglected. Most often, our donors make a one-time donation of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10. Whatever you can do helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Indigenous news.

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The Unionist Party refuses to form a new Northern Ireland government https://seattlewto.org/the-unionist-party-refuses-to-form-a-new-northern-ireland-government/ Mon, 09 May 2022 18:26:39 +0000 https://seattlewto.org/the-unionist-party-refuses-to-form-a-new-northern-ireland-government/ LONDON (AP) — Northern Ireland’s largest Unionist party, which lost local elections last week, refused on Monday to return to a power-sharing government, saying it would not do so until his demands for post-Brexit customs arrangements would not be met. Democratic Unionist Party leader Jeffrey Donaldson was among political leaders who met British Northern Ireland […]]]>

LONDON (AP) — Northern Ireland’s largest Unionist party, which lost local elections last week, refused on Monday to return to a power-sharing government, saying it would not do so until his demands for post-Brexit customs arrangements would not be met.

Democratic Unionist Party leader Jeffrey Donaldson was among political leaders who met British Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis who urged them to come together to resuscitate a crippled Northern Irish government.

The talks came after nationalist Sinn Fein, which seeks to unite with Ireland, won a historic victory in last week’s elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly. Sinn Fein overtook rival DUP to become the first Irish nationalist party to win the vote in Northern Ireland’s history.

It was a milestone for a party long associated with the paramilitary Irish Republican Army, which sought to use violence to wrest Northern Ireland from British rule.

But while Sinn Fein is now entitled to the post of First Minister of Northern Ireland, a functioning executive can only be formed if the DUP, as the largest unionist party, agrees to take on the role of deputy minister. under the region’s mandatory power-sharing rules.

Donaldson said on Monday he had made it clear to Lewis that the DUP would not appoint ministers to the executive unless the UK government took ‘decisive action’ on new Brexit customs rules known as the Protocol from Northern Ireland.

“They are strongly committed to protecting our place in the UK internal market. They didn’t, they failed over the last two and a half years to honor that commitment,” Donaldson said.

“We are looking at what the government is going to say now, but what is more fundamentally important is what the government is going to do,” he added.

Unionists are strongly opposed to new customs and border checks on certain goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK which were introduced after Britain left the European Union.

The special arrangement was intended to prevent the return of a land border with the Republic of Ireland. Keeping this border open to the free movement of people and goods is a key pillar of the peace process in Northern Ireland which ended decades of bloody conflict.

But unionists say the new checks have created a barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK that undermines their British identity and want them removed.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning government since February, when then-DUP leader Paul Givan resigned as premier in protest at post-Brexit rules.

Britain’s Conservative government is trying to convince the EU to agree to major changes, but negotiations are deadlocked.

Speaking after Monday’s meetings with party leaders, Lewis said London “will not take anything off the table” in its negotiations with the EU.

“The UK government’s top priority remains the preservation of peace and stability in Northern Ireland,” he said. “The current situation with the protocol fundamentally undermines the Belfast (Good Friday) agreement and creates an unacceptable situation in Northern Ireland.”

Sinn Fein deputy chair Michelle O’Neill stressed she wanted to serve as “first minister for all” and work in partnership with other parties.

“I accept that this election represents a moment of very significant change,” O’Neill said. “As Prime Minister for All, I intend to work with those with different political perspectives through partnership, not division.”

The Northern Ireland Assembly has a week to meet and allow newly elected lawmakers to take their seats. Members of the Assembly will then choose a president and ministers, starting with the prime and deputy prime ministers.

If, as seems likely, no executive can be formed, ministers from the previous government will remain in power as an interim administration. A new election must be held if there is still no executive after 24 weeks.

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Starbucks faces sweeping government complaint over union busting campaign https://seattlewto.org/starbucks-faces-sweeping-government-complaint-over-union-busting-campaign/ Fri, 06 May 2022 23:56:28 +0000 https://seattlewto.org/starbucks-faces-sweeping-government-complaint-over-union-busting-campaign/ The U.S. government’s Labor Board has filed a sweeping lawsuit against Starbucks management for dozens of alleged violations of federal labor laws, including the firing of workers trying to unionize and the closing of stores in retaliation for supporting the campaign. union. A sweeping complaint filed by a regional director of the National Labor Relations […]]]>

The U.S. government’s Labor Board has filed a sweeping lawsuit against Starbucks management for dozens of alleged violations of federal labor laws, including the firing of workers trying to unionize and the closing of stores in retaliation for supporting the campaign. union.

A sweeping complaint filed by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board in Buffalo, New York, on May 6 follows a massive labor effort among Starbucks workers at the coffee giant’s stores across the United States. , which met with significant opposition from the company’s management.

More than 200 stores have filed a petition for union elections, and pro-union workers at at least 50 stores have won elections to unionize their workplaces, including flagship stores in New York and hometown Seattle. of the company.

The 45-page complaint encompassing stores in the Buffalo area — where the campaign began — alleges a series of violations among Starbucks management in retaliation for workers’ union support, including firing six workers, promising to benefits to workers who oppose the union, monitoring conversations and questioning workers about the union, inconsistent enforcement of store policies, and total store closures, among other allegations.

The complaint is the result of dozens of unfair labor practice allegations filed by union organizers since November 2021, which the NLRB now recognizes as “valid and correct”, according to Starbucks Workers United attorney Ian Hayes.

It’s “a vindication for everyone who works for Starbucks and everyone who watched this campaign,” he said during a Friday press briefing.

A Starbucks spokesperson said The Independent that he believes the allegations to be false.

“This is good news, but we’ve had to endure so much to get here, especially partners like me who have been laid off,” said Cassie Fleischer, of the laid off Buffalo-area Starbucks workers. during the union campaign. “I’m so thrilled to hear the NLRB is on our side and I’m confident I’ll get my job back. [through] this process.”

The complaint – among the largest ever filed in the region – names hundreds of Starbucks officials who were sent by the company during the labor campaign.

Starbucks must reinstate and pay laid-off workers, reopen closed stores, conduct mandatory worker rights training and notify all Starbucks workers that the company violated the law, according to the complaint’s redress claims.

CEO Howard Schultz and Executive Vice President Rossann Williams must also record themselves reading the notice and distribute the recording to all Starbucks workers, the complaint states.

“It tears at the progressive image of this company,” said labor organizer Richard Bensinger. “They are being exposed as a… brutal, lawless corporation that seems to care fanatically about breaking a union.”

Starbucks workers have submitted candidacies for union elections at dozens of stores across the United States. At least 50 stores voted to unionize.

(AFP via Getty Images)

A statement from Starbucks to The Independent says the complaint “involves important issues”.

“However, Starbucks disagrees that the claims have merit, and the issuance of the complaint does not constitute a finding of the NLRB,” according to a spokesperson. “This is the start of a legal process that allows both parties to be heard and to present evidence. We believe that the allegations in the complaint are false and we look forward to presenting our evidence when the allegations go to trial.

Mr. Schultz, who recently replaced Kevin Johnson after spending 13 years at the helm of the company, told the company town hall on April 4 that “we cannot ignore what is happening in the country in when it comes to businesses across the country being assaulted in so many ways.” by the threat of unionization.

In a recent call with managers, Mr. Schultz also sentenced an “outside force desperately trying to disrupt our business”.

After union workers and organizers from Amazon and Starbucks joined a meeting at the White House with Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh on May 5, Starbucks executive AJ Jones II said wrote to White House adviser Steve Ricchetti to express the company’s disappointment with the meeting.

“We believe this lack of representation understates the reality that the majority of our partners oppose union membership and the organizing tactics deployed by Workers United,” Jones wrote.

A court date has been set for July 22.

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Okinawa Japan urges government to reduce tensions with China https://seattlewto.org/okinawa-japan-urges-government-to-reduce-tensions-with-china/ Fri, 06 May 2022 09:36:16 +0000 https://seattlewto.org/okinawa-japan-urges-government-to-reduce-tensions-with-china/ TOKYO (AP) — Japan should focus more on peaceful diplomacy with China rather than military deterrence as tensions mount around Chinese-claimed Taiwan, the governor of the neighboring island of Okinawa said on Friday. , in southern Japan. He also urged that Okinawa’s burden of hosting the majority of US troops in Japan be reduced. “We […]]]>

TOKYO (AP) — Japan should focus more on peaceful diplomacy with China rather than military deterrence as tensions mount around Chinese-claimed Taiwan, the governor of the neighboring island of Okinawa said on Friday. , in southern Japan. He also urged that Okinawa’s burden of hosting the majority of US troops in Japan be reduced.

“We are deeply alarmed,” Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki said of talks in parliament about the possibility of a security emergency involving Taiwan, and concerns that Okinawa, 600 kilometers (370 miles) away, could be involved in it.

Tamaki was speaking online from the prefectural capital of Naha ahead of the 50th anniversary of Okinawa’s return to Japan on May 15, 1972, 20 years after most of Japan regained its independence from American occupation after World War II.

There are concerns in Okinawa, with its continued heavy US military presence, about rising tensions resulting from China’s increasingly assertive military actions in the region and its rivalry with the United States. There are also fears that the Russian invasion of Ukraine will embolden Beijing.

China claims that Taiwan is governed independently as its own territory, and control of the island is a key part of Beijing’s political and military thinking. In October, Chinese leader Xi Jinping reiterated that “the reunification of the nation must be achieved and will certainly be achieved.”

In what Beijing calls a warning to Taiwan independence supporters and their foreign allies, China has held threatening military drills and flown fighter jets near Taiwan airspace, including on Feb. , the day Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.

“Any escalation of issues over the Taiwan Strait and the possibility of Okinawa being targeted for attack must never happen or be allowed to happen,” Tamaki said.

The lingering tension has reignited fears among Okinawans of being sacrificed again by mainland Japan, such as in the Battle of Okinawa which killed some 200,000 people, half of them civilians, towards the end of the Second World War.

Japan sees China’s military buildup as a regional threat and has moved its troops to defend the southwestern islands, including Okinawa and its outer islands, deploying missile defense systems and other facilities, and by increasing joint exercises with the American army and other regional partners.

On Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Japan “took advantage of diplomatic activities to make a fuss with China, exacerbate regional tensions and exaggerate the so-called Chinese threat”, and that Tokyo “was looking for excuses for its military expansion.

The United States has always expressed support for ensuring Taiwan can defend itself, and Chinese military action against the island in the short to medium term is generally seen as a remote possibility.

Noting that China is Japan’s largest trading partner and Japan is China’s second largest, Tamaki said their close economic ties are indispensable.

“I call on the Japanese government to always maintain calm and peaceful diplomacy and dialogue to improve relations with China, while striving to ease US-China tensions,” he said.

Okinawa at the time of its reversion asked Japan to make it a peaceful island devoid of military bases. Today, it still houses the majority of the approximately 50,000 American troops and their military installations in Japan, and Tamaki said that burden should be shared by all of Japan.

Due to US bases, Okinawa faces daily noise, pollution, plane crashes and crime from US troops, Tamaki said.

“This excessive American basic burden is still unresolved 50 years after the reversion,” he said. “Okinawa’s burden on US military bases is a key diplomatic and security issue that concerns all Japanese people.”

The biggest sticking point between Okinawa and Tokyo is the central government’s insistence that a US Navy base in a crowded neighborhood, Futenma Air Station, be moved to Okinawa instead of elsewhere like the many Okinawans demand.

While development projects over the past five decades have helped Okinawa’s economy, Okinawa’s average income remains the lowest among Japan’s 47 prefectures, Tamaki said.

If land taken by the US military is returned to the prefecture for another use, it would generate three times as much revenue for Okinawa, Tamaki said.

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US government says Brittney Griner was wrongfully detained in Russia https://seattlewto.org/us-government-says-brittney-griner-was-wrongfully-detained-in-russia/ Tue, 03 May 2022 22:55:31 +0000 https://seattlewto.org/us-government-says-brittney-griner-was-wrongfully-detained-in-russia/ SAITAMA, JAPAN – AUGUST 06: Brittney Griner #15 of Team USA watches Serbia during the second half of a women’s basketball semifinal match on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Saitama Super Arena on August 06, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) By Jennifer Hansler and Wayne Sterling, […]]]>
SAITAMA, JAPAN – AUGUST 06: Brittney Griner #15 of Team USA watches Serbia during the second half of a women’s basketball semifinal match on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Saitama Super Arena on August 06, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

By Jennifer Hansler and Wayne Sterling, CNN

(CNN) – The State Department has now classified WNBA star Brittney Griner as wrongfully detained in Russia and her case is being handled by the Office of the President’s Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA) Roger Carstens, a State Department official confirmed to CNN Tuesday.

The SPEHA office leads and coordinates the government’s diplomatic efforts to secure the release of Americans wrongfully detained abroad, and moving to their office means more flexibility in efforts to negotiate his freedom, as they have no necessarily have to wait for the Russian legal proceedings to play.

Carstens and his team played a major role in the release of US citizen and Navy veteran Trevor Reed from Russia last week.

“As for our efforts to free Americans, the President’s special envoy for hostage affairs, Ambassador Carstens, he will go anywhere, he will talk to anyone if it means we are able to come home to an American, to reunite that American with her or her family,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the decision to classify Griner as wrongfully detained was made “in coordination with the hostage negotiator.” [Carstens] and the State Department.

“But generally, and I don’t think that will change, in order to allow the space to have an outcome that we all want and desire, which is to bring her home, and all Americans detained or wrongfully detained, we usually don’t. I don’t talk about it much,” she said.

Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said in a statement, “Brittney has been detained for 75 days and we expect the White House to do whatever is necessary to bring her home.”

In addition to the work of the Biden administration, the Richardson Center, which privately advocates for the families of hostages and detainees and has been involved in bringing Reed home, is also working on behalf of the Griner family to try to secure his release.

“I can confirm that Governor Richardson and the Richardson Center are indeed working on behalf of Brittney’s family to ensure her safe return. Due to ongoing efforts and sensitivities, we are focused on work rather than conversation at this time,” Mickey Bergman, vice president and executive director of the Richardson Center, said in a statement to CNN.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA Phoenix Mercury star, was arrested in February at a Moscow airport and charged by Russian authorities with smuggling large amounts of narcotics, a punishable offense 10 years in prison. .

She plays for Russian powerhouse UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason.

On Tuesday, the WNBA said it would honor seven-time all-star Griner in the 2022 season with his initials and jersey number (42) on the sidelines of the 12 home courts.

“As we begin the 2022 season, we are keeping Brittney at the forefront of what we do across basketball and in the community,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.

“We continue to work to bring Brittney home and appreciate the support the community has shown BG and her family during this extraordinarily difficult time.”

Griner will also receive his full WNBA salary, the league said.

Last season, Griner finished second in voting for the Most Valuable Player award. The 6’9″ center led the Mercury to the WNBA Finals, where Phoenix lost to the Chicago Sky in four games.

The WNBA season begins Friday and Phoenix begins its home season against the Las Vegas Aces.

Russian authorities did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on the State Department’s reclassification of the Griner case.

The-CNN-Wire
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Honduran economic zones in ‘limbo’ after government repeal https://seattlewto.org/honduran-economic-zones-in-limbo-after-government-repeal/ Sat, 30 Apr 2022 15:46:24 +0000 https://seattlewto.org/honduran-economic-zones-in-limbo-after-government-repeal/ TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — A plan to create special autonomous zones for foreign investors in Honduras has been thrown into limbo with the new government’s repeal of a law that many have criticized as giving up sovereignty. The zones were inspired by libertarian and free-market thinkers as a way to attract foreign investment to the […]]]>

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — A plan to create special autonomous zones for foreign investors in Honduras has been thrown into limbo with the new government’s repeal of a law that many have criticized as giving up sovereignty.

The zones were inspired by libertarian and free-market thinkers as a way to attract foreign investment to the impoverished country. Not only were they exempt from import and export taxes, but they could set up their own internal forms of government, as well as courts, security forces, schools, and even social security systems. They were authorized by a constitutional amendment and an enabling law passed in 2013.

Critics feared the areas would become near-independent states, and President Xiomara Castro, who took office in January, campaigned against the law. On Monday, she signed a measure passed by the Honduran Congress to repeal it – although the authorization for the zones still remains in the constitution.

The zones – known as ZEDE in Spanish – had been promoted by his predecessor as president, Juan Orlando Hernández, who was extradited to the United States on April 21 to face charges of drug trafficking and weapons.

Castro called the repeal “historic” and said Honduras was “recovering its sovereignty.” His administration said they did not want to destroy what had already been built, but that changes were coming.

“We will work hand in hand to do things responsibly because we also don’t want to try to destroy what has been built,” said Rodolfo Pastor, a member of Castro’s cabinet. “With those who (exist) already, there is going to be a dialogue because autonomous zones will not be authorized.” He said a committee would be formed to work with the three existing zones.

Perhaps the most ambitious is a 58-acre development project called Prospera on the Caribbean island of Roatan promoted by American libertarians with modernist building plans drawn up by Zaha Hadid Architects.

Prospera supporters released a statement just before the repeal vote, saying they intended to “confidently pursue plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars and create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs in Honduras based on its acquired rights under the ZEDE.”

“For the State of Honduras to deny these rights would clearly violate its obligations under international and domestic law based on well-established legal principles,” the statement said.

After the law was repealed, Prospera president, Mississippi State Representative Joel Bomgar said Honduras has a better future with Prospera.

“All it takes is for Honduras to honor its international commitments,” he said. “Prospera came to Honduras with the best intentions to invest and generate opportunities, based on the legal commitments made by each party, and that intention and those commitments remain.”

Another area, a sprawling agro-industrial park called Orquidea near the southern town of Choluteca, is also progressing, but is more prosaic. It features rows upon rows of massive greenhouses producing peppers and tomatoes for export.

“Right now we are all in uncertainty, but the important thing is to listen to the government to see how the process it is putting in place can be supported,” said Guillermo Peña Panting, technical secretary of the Orquidea group. .

“We need to have an open discussion to see what (the government) is ready to do or create, because what we want is to continue contributing to the economy and developing what we have been doing in a serious and responsible,” he said. added.

Part of the uncertainty is because the authorization of ZEDEs remains in the constitution even though the law under which they operate has been repealed.

Congress and Castro decided to remove that language from the constitution, but that would require a second vote by a new Congress next year.

“Businesses that work will have to continue to operate, because constitutionally they continue to exist,” said constitutionalist Juan Carlos Barrientos. “But now nobody is going to come and invest in a useless thing, because without law, nobody is going to risk investing here.”

Political analyst Raúl Pineda Alvarado said the now repealed law was the most controversial part of the legal framework.

“This organic law contained provisions that went beyond constitutional reform,” Pineda said, with privileges that were not in the constitution itself.

The law had stated that the zones had to conform to most Honduran constitutional principles and international human rights agreements, but critics argued that they were essentially creating a separate state within a state, undermining the sovereignty of the country.

A 21-member “best practices” committee has been established to oversee and help regulate the zones to create a business-friendly environment.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank, wrote on Wednesday that there was no way the Honduran government could end ZEDEs overnight. And if he pursues the long outcome of the initiative, “investors have a number of legal mechanisms at their disposal”.

“The Castro government’s support for the repeal of the ZEDEs will likely discourage future investment in Honduras – certainly in the ZEDEs, but also investments outside the ZEDE framework – and risks transforming some of the criticisms leveled by opponents of the ZEDE regarding job creation into self-fulfilling prophecies,” the analysis reads.

Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras applauded Castro’s cancellation of the zones. Last year, he warned that the ZEDEs “could mean serious risks to compliance with the general obligation of the Honduran state to respect and guarantee the free and full exercise of the rights of all residents without discrimination”.

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AP writer Christopher Sherman in Mexico City contributed to this report.

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