Convention could erode our rights

first_imgCan we afford to hand over our Constitution to be rewritten? The First Amendment clearly states that Congress is forbidden to make any law abridging either freedom of speech or freedom of the press. However, it’s very much on their agenda to alter the wording of the Second Amendment in order to “clarify” its language for how they want it to read. Will this change the amendment or eliminate it? That depends on how they favor to make these changes. One supporter wrote, “What’s needed is a way for the states to have the power to overturn Supreme Court decisions … a constitutional amendment could be written, for example, allowing a three-fifths vote of the state legislatures to challenge court decisions.” Once the convention is graveled to order, any and all parts of the Constitution would be open to change. Will the 38-state ratification process protect us from bad amendments being passed? One only need look at history to find the answer is no.Who attends this convention? Any sitting or former member of Congress, judges, or legislators can be delegates. This means there could be a group of people serving there making compromises with each other to get the amendments they want passed voted out to the states. It’s an unpredictable situation.All Americans should let the elected officials know that they are expected to support our republic and thus avoid an Article V Convention. Beth JacksonScotiaMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen? Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionDid you know that 28 state legislatures have applied for an Article V Convention — also known as a constitutional convention? Since 1787, America has chosen to avoid the risk of a new convention that could rewrite our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Now 28 state legislatures want this. If just six more states apply, Congress will be forced to call an Article V Convention. last_img read more

Love your Mother Earth

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionAs you know, Mother Earth, Earth Day is today, April 22. On this day many of your children join together to celebrate you. We Earthlings engage with others in projects to clean up our litter and waste, to plant trees and flowers, and to care for our corner of this planet that we call home. There are so many ways to do this, so many opportunities. You must be very excited and heartened to see us being good stewards and kin to the rest of creation. On this day, we pay attention, we take responsibility, we look at the harm we have caused and we work together to heal some of these hurts. Then Monday will come. For many of us, awareness of this amazing web of life will fade away fast. We will return to our habits of wasting the resources that you provide for us. We will refuse to recycle. We will plunder and squander the habitats of our kin creatures. How can we begin to live in a way that makes every day your day?For us who live in Schenectady, a gift to you would be to recycle. In my neighborhood, I see very few recycling bins out on “trash day.” There is lots of garbage that will go into your belly, the Earth (you know, we call this the landfill). Your children need to see that recycling is so important, especially since our “landfills” are filling up and we will need more of your precious space to dump our stuff. We need to realize that one use throw-away products are so wasteful.Another gift to you would be to stop littering. I live near Central Park. The amount of trash that is tossed on the ground makes me cry. I can only imagine how you feel.So, dear Mother Earth, enjoy your special day. We can only hope and pray that more of the members of your human family will make everyday Earth Day.LINDA NEILSchenectadyMore from The Daily Gazette:Schenectady High School senior class leaders look to salvage sense of normalcySchenectady’s Lucas Rodriguez forging his own path in dance, theater, musicMotorcyclist injured in Thursday afternoon Schenectady crashTroopers: Schenectady pair possessed heroin, crack cocaine in Orange County Thruway stopEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homeslast_img read more

Niche market

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Rose makes banking return at ABN Amro

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Bidders line up for M&S properties

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Compulsory purchase disorder

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Bushfires burned a fifth of Australia’s forest: Study

first_imgTopics : Australia’s wildfires have destroyed more than a fifth of the country’s forests, making the blazes “globally unprecedented” following a years-long drought linked to climate change, researchers said Monday.Climate scientists are currently examining data from the disaster, which destroyed swathes of southeastern Australia, to determine to what extent they can be attributed to rising temperatures. In a special edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, Australian researchers examined several other aspects of the blazes, including investigations into their extent and possible causes.  Boer said his study almost certainly underestimates the extent of forest loss as the island state of Tasmania was not covered in the data.Australia’s annual average forest loss to wild fires is typically well below 2 percent.- Droughts linked to sea temperature -Another study published Monday looked at the conditions that made the fires so damaging — a years-long dry spell in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin.Droughts create more fuel for wildfires and make it harder for forests to recover after each blaze. Andrew King, from the University of Melbourne, and colleagues looked at a phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which has a direct effect on rainfall levels in Australia and elsewhere. Since 2017 much of Australia has experienced widespread drought, something the study attributed to a relative lack of negative IOD events — when there are warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in the east Indian Ocean with cooler waters in the west.These events tend to shift weather patterns and typically bring greater rainfall to southeast Australia, and are made less frequent as global sea temperatures warm. King and the team examined rainfall statistics and found that the winter of 2016 saw extremely heavy precipitation and a corresponding negative IOD event.Since then, the Murray-Darling Basin has experienced 12 consecutive seasons with below-average rainfall, the longest period on record since 1900.”With climate change there have been projections that there will be more positive IOD events and fewer negative IOD events,” King told AFP. “This would mean that we’d expect more dry seasons in Australia and possibly worse droughts.”Boer said that climate change was all but certain to make Australia more prone to wildfires and urged the government to strengthen fire readiness measures and “take urgent and effective action on climate change.”center_img One study showed that between September 2019 and January 2020 around 5.8 million hectares of broadleaf forest were burned in New South Wales and Victoria. This accounts for roughly 21 percent of the nation’s forested area, making this fire season proportionately the most devastating on record. “Halfway through Spring 2019 we realised that a very large part of the eastern Australian forest could be burned in this single season,” Matthias Boer, from the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University, Penrith, told AFP. “The shock came from realising that this season was off the charts globally in terms of the percentage of the continental section of a forest biome that burned.”last_img read more

Students, workers take to streets in Yogyakarta to say no to omnibus job creation bill

first_imgThe protesters gathered on Jl. Gejayan, a historical street that has witnessed many popular protests. The most recent was the Gejayan Calling movement or #GejayanMemanggil, where thousands of people protested against the revisions to the Corruption Eradication Commission Law and the Criminal Code.They set up a stage and played music as well as taking turns to deliver speeches. Despite the rain that began to fall the protestors remained, carrying banners with messages like “Stop the omnibus law”, referring to the job creation bill, and “Investment regime: It only acknowledges the people during elections”.Workers, students and activists claim the omnibus bill on job creation will harm democracy, the environment and the interests of workers.“If the government fails to listen to the people’s voice in Yogyakarta and other areas, we will come to Jakarta,” Syahdan continued. Hundreds of students, workers and artists grouped under the People’s Movement Alliance gathered on Monday to hold a “grand meeting” on the streets to stop the deliberation of the controversial omnibus bill on job creation.“We are here as the people’s parliament to announce our motion of no confidence in the House of Representatives because they fail to represent the interests of the people who reject the [job creation omnibus bill],” the alliance spokesperson, Syahdan, said on Monday.The omnibus bill on job creation would amend 73 laws and consists of 15 chapters and 174 articles The secretary of the Federation of Independent Workers Unions in Yogyakarta and Central Java, Ali Prasetyo, said on Monday that the workers rejected the job creation bill because it significantly relaxed outsourcing restrictions. He said the regulation would make employees “contract workers all their life”.He also rejected the article that allowed provincial governors to create their own formulations to calculate the minimum wage.The job creation bill has also drawn criticism from students in Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta. In a discussion last month, legal experts concluded that the process of drafting the bill was “not transparent”. They pointed out that the content of the bill did not reflect the rationale of the bill.“Illegal levies and red tape are common practices in Indonesia. Even though we have good regulations, in reality they should not be able to be implemented. Don’t think investors will come because the government streamlines the regulations,” said Maria S.W Sumardjono from the UGM School of Law on Feb. 13.She said the omnibus job creation bill could offer only empty promises to investors because in reality they will have to deal with natural resources regulations. She said there were at least 26 regulations concerning natural resources that would need to be ironed out.“Investors could come here, get a location permit, but later it gets revoked because an indigenous community claims the land,” she went on.She said the job creation bill could infringe the rights of indigenous people.Another legal expert, Zainal Arifin Mochtar, said he found problems in the academic document of the bill. He said people’s participation was essential in the drafting of such a bill, which revised more than 70 bills. “It has to come from social analysis,” he said.He said the bill seemed to be prioritizing the economic and investment agenda while in the past, during the New Order, focusing only on the economy and investment had ended up damaging the environment and human rights.He also criticized the process by which the government only talked with businesspeople in formulating the bill. “We’d be better to reject this bill altogether because the deliberation in the House can also only be swayed by power,” he said.Topics :last_img read more

COVID-19: Does Indonesia need a lockdown? It depends on how you define it

first_imgMost importantly, does Indonesia – with its ever-increasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, 227 at the time of writing – actually need to impose a lockdown?To answer the above questions, one must first understand the basic definitions of the terms.This photo taken on February 16, 2020 shows medical staff members working at the isolation ward of the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province. (AFP/STR)Lockdown? What lockdown?  It seems that at the height of any crisis, a buzzword tends to pop up and dominate public discourse due to the sheer frequency of its usage by state officials and ordinary people alike.During the current public health crisis caused by outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which the World Health Organization has officially declared a pandemic, that buzzword seems to be “lockdown” – a term that carries apocalyptic connotations and imagery, thanks in no small part to popular culture.But what exactly does an actual lockdown entail? How does it differ from community quarantine? According to Bayu Krisnamurthi, who headed the National Committee for Avian Flu Control and Pandemic Preparedness in Indonesia, the terms lockdown and community quarantine are synonymous in that both are used interchangeably to refer to a type of quarantine in which all citizens in a certain region are prohibited from going in and out of the territory without official permission from authorities.In terms of scale, quarantine procedures vary from self-isolation – which entails confining confirmed or potential patients to observation in their homes – to lockdown, also known as community quarantine.In practice, however, quarantine protocols are more nuanced than they may seem on paper. For example, some countries have imposed “total lockdowns”, while others have merely decided to implement “partial lockdowns” – that is, controlling the movement of their population by imposing a “general community quarantine” or, in a slightly bleaker situation, an “enhanced community quarantine”.Read also: Social distancing and super-spreaders: Coronavirus lingo goes viralThe first country to impose a total lockdown during the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak was China. The country implemented the emergency protocol in the outbreak’s epicenter of Wuhan, Hubei province. The city’s population of 11 million was kept from leaving Wuhan to contain the spread of the disease.However, as the number of confirmed cases and fatalities quickly grew in other regions across the province, the Chinese government scrambled to put 15 other cities including Huanggang and Ezhou on lockdown, affecting nearly 60 million people.Chinese-style lockdownThroughout the lockdown, the Chinese government issued an order to shut down all non-essential companies and schools, and it banned certain modes of transportation.China’s efforts have paid off in recent weeks as the country reported fewer than 200 new cases of infection per day, a drastic fall from the about 3,000 new cases recorded daily last month, as reported by the South China Morning Post.Despite its apparent efficacy, the lockdown has taken a toll on the country’s social cohesion, with public protests and disturbances becoming increasingly common across affected cities as residents complain about the surge in prices for staple foods, among other things.As of the time of writing, China has recorded a total of 80,881 cases and 3,226 fatalities.In Europe, a number of countries including Italy – the hardest-hit country in Europe and the second hardest-hit nation globally after China – have followed suit and have imposed what has been dubbed a “Chinese-style lockdown” in several major cities since the WHO declared the region a new epicenter of COVID-19 on Friday.The entire country of Italy has been put under total lockdown, with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte extending restrictions already in place in “red zones” in the northern provinces to the rest of the nation, CNN reported.Italy’s healthcare system is overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients that have to be given immediate treatment. The country has 35,172 confirmed cases and 2,937 fatalities at the time of writing.Similarly, France has taken a hard-edged approach to the pandemic by imposing a total lockdown throughout the country, akin to the ones implemented in China and Italy. French President Emmanuel Macron said during a press conference that strict confinement was the only effective weapon against the virus. It has infected more than 6,600 and killed 148 in France, as reported by AFP.The French lockdown entailed the deployment 100,000 police officers to patrol the streets, as well as a $150 fine for any violation of the emergency protocol.Commuters take the Woodlands Causeway to Singapore from Johor a day before Malaysia imposes a lockdown on travel due to the coronavirus outbreak in Singapore March 17, 2020. (REUTERS/Edgar Su)Partial lockdownIn contrast, South Asian countries have implemented comparatively lenient restrictions, probably due to the fact that the number of confirmed cases and deaths in the region is nowhere close to the number recorded in other, more affected regions.Instead of a fully-fledged lockdown, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhiyiddin Yasin announced earlier this week a “movement control order” – also known as a partial lockdown – that restricts mass gatherings from March 18 to 31. In addition, the order bans all overseas travel to and from Malaysia and closes all schools, government offices and private businesses except “those involved in providing essential services”.However, despite the seemingly stringent rules, the Malaysian government is still allowing its citizens to leave their houses to purchase groceries and other essentials. Certain outdoor activities such as jogging and exercise are still allowed, provided that Malaysians avoid close contact with each other.Malaysia has confirmed more than 500 COVID-19 cases at the time of writing.Read also: How a 16,000-strong religious gathering led Malaysia to lockdownIn the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has put the Manila metropolitan area under general community quarantine and the entire island of Luzon under enhanced community quarantine from Mar. 17 to Apr. 13.Whereas the general community quarantine is essentially identical to Malaysia’s movement control order, the enhanced version is closer to a total lockdown – but still not as stringent.During an enhanced community quarantine, the government strictly regulates food provisions and healthcare. It also increases the presence of uniformed personnel on the streets to enforce quarantine procedures, according Philippine Interagency Task Force spokesperson Karlo Nograles.Private establishments providing basic necessities such as convenience stores, markets, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and delivery services – among others – are allowed to remain in operation during the enhanced community quarantine.What about Indonesia? A partial lockdown is an optionThe above cases present Indonesia with an abundance of options, each with its own strengths and limitations, as the government considers how to best stem the spread of COVID-19 in the country.Indonesia has yet to issue any stringent regulation beyond its campaign to promote social distancing. The government is reluctant to conduct mass testing to isolate confirmed cases, one of the only alternatives to implementing a lockdown in the face of the worst pandemic in recent history.  The government is expected to act fast, with scientists calling for a community quarantine ahead of Idul Fitri, when the country’s predominantly Muslim population travels to hometowns and villages across the archipelago, thereby increasing the risk of a nationwide outbreak.President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has called on the public to work, study and worship from home to prevent a nationwide outbreak, but he stressed that the government was “not leaning toward issuing a lockdown policy” at the time.”I have to emphasize that issuing a lockdown policy, either at the national or regional level, is under the authority of central government. Such a policy cannot be issued by regional administrations,” Jokowi told a press conference on Monday.However, if push comes to shove, as it likely will in the coming weeks with the approaching Idul Fitri holiday, scientists seem to have agreed that imposing a partial lockdown is Indonesia’s best bet.Members of the Indonesian Young Scientist Forum (IYSF) have called on the government to impose a lockdown on areas considered outbreak hotspots.“Measures to limit crowds and the movement of individuals in vulnerable areas should be maximized if the number of [confirmed] cases per day doubles,” the forum said in a letter addressed to Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko.IYSF member Berry Juliandi from Bogor Agricultural University said a partial lockdown was the most fitting option since it would still give the public a degree of freedom. “It would be better if [the government imposed] a partial lockdown. It limits individual movement but still allows access to essentials,” Berry said.Indonesian passengers wearing face masks ride a Trans Jakarta bus on March 18, 2020. (AFP/Adek Berry)Island lockdown?Airlangga University scholar Nidom, who also helms the Coronavirus Research and Vaccine Formulation Team, said that if the government decided to impose a lockdown due to future escalation, it should implement an island-based lockdown, instead of the usual city-based lockdown, considering the country’s vast archipelagic expanse.“A lockdown is feasible but only if it’s not imposed in individual cities […]. It would be better if [the government] imposed an island-based lockdown instead. Indonesia is an archipelagic state, the sea could serve as the best isolator,” he said.In Java, for example, such a measure could be carried out successfully assuming that all regional heads on the island joined forces and issued joint policies for the island’s entire population, instead of contradicting each other if left to their own devices, he said.Furthermore, such a massive undertaking would require greater involvement from members of the public as well as a concerted effort on the neighborhood level, such as turning houses of worship into shelters for COVID-19 patients, Nidom said. However, in such a scenario, schools and offices would remain operational as usual, he added.Bayu said that although the lockdown remained a viable option, the mitigation of the pandemic could ultimately be accomplished through a strict social-distancing protocol.“Social distancing serves as an alternative to quarantine,” Bayu said. “The spread of the coronavirus can mainly be prevented by not touching infected objects and other people, as well as not touching our own faces.” Editor’s note:This article has been updated to correct the number of COVID-19 cases in Italy. Topics :last_img read more

S. Korea discusses coronavirus with China, Japan; plans to quarantine Europe entries

first_img“I think the three countries need to work together to contain the spread of the coronavirus and minimize any resulting reduction on exchanges and cooperation between the peoples, as well as its economic and social impact.”Stronger border controls and a sharp cut in flights are taking a toll on exchanges between the three neighbors, adding to historical and territorial tensions that have often overshadowed their diplomatic and economic ties.Earlier this month, Seoul suspended visas and visa waivers for Japan in a tit-for-tat move to Tokyo’s own travel restrictions on Koreans, as fears over the coronavirus triggered a fresh feud.Both China, where the flu-like virus first emerged, and South Korea, which suffered Asia’s outbreak outside China, have seen a downward trend in locally transmitted infections. 14-say quarantine for EuropeThe Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 87 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total national infections to 8,652.The daily tally for new infections has been trending downward over the past week, despite a slight uptick on Thursday as small-scale outbreaks continued to emerge across the country. South Korea’s death toll stood unchanged at 94.Of the new cases, 34 were from the hardest-hit city of Daegu where dozens of patients at several nursing homes have tested positive for the virus this week, the KCDC data showed.South Korea’s government said on Tuesday it will conduct a coronavirus check on all travellers from Europe and impose a two-week mandatory quarantine for those who will stay for a long term, starting Sunday.”This is the toughest step we could take without banning entries from Europe, where the virus is spreading at an unexpected speed,” Yoon Tae-ho, director-general for public health policy at the health ministry, told a briefing.”We’re also closely monitoring developments in the United States where the rate of the transmission has been increasing over the last few days.”The move came a day after tighter border checks took effect for all people arriving from overseas.South Korea has established special entry procedures for visitors from hard-hit countries like China, Italy and Iran, requiring them to sign up by a smartphone application to track whether they have any symptoms such as fever.As of Thursday, there were 79 cases involving infected people who had recently arrived in the country, up from 44 recorded on Sunday. Most of them were South Koreans, 27 came from Europe, 16 from China, and 12 from other Asian countries, according to the KCDC. The foreign ministers of South Korea, China and Japan held a video conference on Friday to discuss cooperation on the coronavirus pandemic amid growing concern over the number of infected people arriving in their countries from overseas.The ministers shared information on the outbreaks in their countries and explored ways to prevent the further spread of the virus while maintaining economic and people-to-people exchanges, Seoul officials said.”This issue has a direct impact on the lives of the three nations’ citizens”, South Korean minister Kang Kyung-wha said as the meeting kicked off.center_img Topics :last_img read more