Connect with us

US

Myanmar crisis heightens with police raids and strike call

Published

on

[ad_1]

YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar careened deeper into crisis, as police occupied hospitals and universities and reportedly arrested hundreds of people involved in protesting last month’s military seizure of power, while a coalition of labor unions called a strike for Monday.

Tension was high Sunday in the country’s biggest city, Yangon, where for a second night running gunshots from heavy weapons rang out randomly in the streets of several neighborhoods after the start of an 8 p.m. curfew. The sounds of what apparently were stun grenades could also be heard on videos posted on social media.

The purpose for security forces using such weapons when protesters had left the streets appeared to be part of a strategy to strike fear in anyone who might think about defying the authorities. In a similar vein, there were many filmed incidents of police and soldiers in plain view savagely beating protesters they had taken into custody.

Some of the shooting was heard near hospitals, where reports said neighborhood residents sought to block the entry of police and soldiers.

Security forces have often targeted medical personnel and facilities, attacking ambulances and their crews. Members of the medical profession launched the Civil Disobedience Movement, which is the nominal coordinator of the protests, frequently hailed on demonstrators’ signs by its CDM initials. Taking over hospitals would allow the authorities to easily arrest wounded people presumed to be protesters.

Large protests have occurred daily across many cities and towns in Myanmar, and security forces have responded with ever greater use of lethal force and mass arrests. At least 18 protesters were shot and killed on Feb. 28 and 38 on Wednesday, according to the U.N. Human Rights Office. More than 1,500 have been arrested, the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said.

Protests in various cities and towns were again met Sunday by police firing warning shots, and employing tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades.

In a single Yangon neighborhood, Shwepyitha, at least 100 students were reported arrested, and many protesters were also said to have been detained in other cities, especially at universities.

Myanmar labor unions, meanwhile, issued a joint call for a nationwide work stoppage beginning Monday, with the goal of a “full, extended shutdown of the Myanmar economy.”

“To continue the economic and business activities as usual, and to delay a general work-stoppage, will only benefit the military as they repress the energy of the Myanmar people,” said the appeal, issued Sunday night.

The statement called for the strike to continue “until we receive our democracy back.”

Workers in several industries have joined the protest movement, most notably from the state railway and the banking sector.

Factory workers, mostly in the Yangon area, are largely involved in the garment industry, which generates major export earnings for Myanmar. The workers have participated occasionally in the campaign against the junta, but are unable to do so on a daily basis for fear of losing their modest incomes.

Advocates of sanctions against the junta have purposely avoided calling for comprehensive trade sanctions for fear they would hurt the general populace. Instead they have called for, and enacted, targeted sanctions aimed at hurting the military’s leadership and military-linked companies.

Earlier Sunday, police in Myanmar’s ancient former capital, Bagan, opened fire on demonstrators protesting the Feb. 1 coup, wounding several people, according to witness accounts and videos on social media.

At least five people were reported hurt as police sought to break up the Bagan protest, and photos showed one young man with bloody wounds on his chin and neck, believed to have been caused by a rubber bullet. Bullet casings collected at the scene indicated that live rounds were also fired.

The city, located in the central Mandalay region, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of the more than 2,000 pagodas or their remnants situated there, dating from the ninth to 13th centuries, when it was the capital of a kingdom that later became known as Burma and is now Myanmar.

Bagan is best known for being one of the country’s top tourist attractions, but it has also been the scene of large protest marches against the junta.

Multiple reports from Yangon said there had been police raids Saturday night seeking to seize organizers and supporters of the protest movement. A ward chairman from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, which was ousted from power in the coup, was found dead in a military hospital Sunday morning by fellow residents of his Pabedan neighborhood, according to a post on Facebook by NLD lawmaker Sithu Maung.

Suspicion was rampant on social media that Khin Maung Latt, 58, died due to a beating in custody after being taken from his residence, but no official cause of death was immediately announced.

In Yangon and elsewhere, raids are carried out nightly after the 8 p.m. curfew by police and soldiers. The arrests are often carried out at gunpoint, without warrants.

The escalation of violence has put pressure on the global community to act to restrain the junta. The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which for five decades had languished under strict military rule that led to international isolation and sanctions.

Suu Kyi’s party led a return to civilian rule with a landslide election victory in 2015, and with an even greater margin of votes last year. It would have been installed for a second five-year term last month, but instead Suu Kyi and President Win Myint and other members of the government were placed in military detention.

[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

US

FDA finds peeling paint, debris at US plant making J&J’s COVID vaccine

Published

on

By

[ad_1]

A US plant that was making Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine must fix a long list of problems including peeling paint and unsanitary conditions and practices to resume operation, according to a highly critical report by the Food and Drug Administration.

Experts said addressing the issues raised in the scathing FDA inspection report could take months.

Neither J&J nor the FDA has said when they expect vaccine production to restart at the Baltimore plant owned by Emergent Biosolutions. Only two other plants are currently equipped to supply the world with the key drug substance for J&J’s vaccine.

“It may take many months to make these changes,” said Prashant Yadav, a global health care supply chain expert at the Center for Global Development. He described some of the issues raised by the FDA as “quite significant.”

No vaccine manufactured at the Emergent plant has been distributed for use in the United States. However, J&J said it will exercise its oversight authority to ensure that all of the FDA observations are addressed promptly and comprehensively.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on a pause in the US over a potential link to a blood clotting condition.
Getty Images

The health care conglomerate has drawn scrutiny for months over its halting process to scale up production of a vaccine that is easier to handle and, by virtue of being a single shot, easier to use than other authorized vaccines.

Its use in the United States has been paused since last week as health officials study a possible link to a very rare but serious blood clot condition.

Emergent has been seeking regulatory authorization to make the J&J vaccine in the United States. It stopped production at the plant recently, saying the FDA had asked it to do so after an inspection.

J&J’s plant in Leiden, the Netherlands, is still producing doses for the world. It has another facility in India, which is currently curtailing exports of the shot as it struggles to vaccinate its own population.

Johnson & Johnson reiterated on Wednesday that it was working to establish a global supply chain in which 10 manufacturing sites would be involved in the production of its COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to the Leiden plant.

The company has a US government-brokered agreement with rival drugmaker Merck, which is preparing to make doses of J&J’s vaccine.

Failure to train personnel

The FDA in its final 12-page inspection report said it had reviewed security camera footage in addition to an in-person site visit to the Emergent plant.

It found a failure to train personnel to avoid cross-contamination of COVID-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which had also been produced at the site. The agency also cited staff carrying unsealed bags of medical waste in the facility, bringing it in contact with containers of material used in manufacturing.

The FDA reviewed security camera footage and visited the Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore.
Getty Images

Earlier this week, the House launched an investigation into whether Emergent used its relationship with a Trump administration official to get a vaccine manufacturing contract despite a record of not delivering on contracts.

Emergent said in a statement that it is working with the FDA and J&J to quickly resolve the issues outlined in the report.

Production of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet authorized for use in the United States, was previously stopped at the Emergent plant after ingredients from that shot contaminated a batch of J&J vaccine, ruining millions of doses.

The FDA also noted that Emergent did not produce adequate reports showing that the vaccines it was producing met quality standards.

The inspection, carried out between April 12 and April 20, also found the building not of suitable size or design to facilitate cleaning, maintenance or proper operations.

J&J said it was redoubling its efforts to get authorization for the facility as quickly as possible.

[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

US

One dead after pair of fires breaks out in Manhattan

Published

on

By

[ad_1]

One person was killed and several others were injured in a pair of Manhattan fires Wednesday morning, officials said.

The first blaze erupted in Midtown around 8:15 a.m. inside a DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse at 213 W. 34th St., where an escalator became fully engulfed in flames — sending smoke billowing into the first and second floor and the interconnected 40-story hotel building, fire officials said.

It was not immediately clear which hotel it was.

Five firefighters suffered minor injuries putting out the blaze.

“The fire went out, but we have a smoke condition that we’re trying to alleviate,” FDNY Battalion Chief John Porretto said at the scene. “Units are going to remain on scene until all the smoke alleviates.”

The fire marshal will determine the causes of the fire.

A second blaze broke out 15 minutes later on the Upper East Side at 1576 2nd Ave., officials said.

A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th Street in Manhattan that left one dead
A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th St. in Manhattan left one dead.
NYFD

One man died in the fire and a second man was in serious condition at Lenox Hill Hospital, police said.

A firefighter suffered minor injuries battling the blaze and was taken to Cornell Hospital, fire officials said.

[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

US

NYC school leaders react to Derek Chauvin guilty verdict

Published

on

By

[ad_1]

The leaders of the city’s public schools and largest charter network both weighed in on the Derek Chauvin verdict with passionate statements about how there is still a long way to go to reach systemic equality.

Department of Education Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter issued a personal commentary Tuesday night after the murder conviction of former Minnesota cop Chauvin.

“I felt pain and rage, deep in my bones,” she said of her initial reaction to George Floyd’s death. “It wasn’t a new feeling. I have felt that many times in my life, as a Black woman, sister, daughter, and mother to Black children—and as an educator who has served children of color in this city for more than 20 years.”

Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would be issuing guidance for teachers and families to help them process the verdict.

Eva Moskowitz with two students, the CEO and Founder of the Success Academy
Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz issued a statement on the Derek Chauvin verdict.
Brigitte Stelzer

“For our Black and brown children to know that they matter, the accountability this verdict represents is so important,” she stated. “In a world that too often tells them otherwise, accountability in this moment tells the Black and brown children in our schools that their lives matter, and lifts up the importance of their futures.”

Several teachers told The Post on Wednesday morning that they planned to broach the topic with their students to allow them to discuss Floyd’s death and Chauvin’s conviction.

Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would issue guidance to help teachers and families process the verdict.
Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would issue guidance to help teachers and families process the verdict.
Mark Lennihan/AP

“Because while the individual who took George Floyd’s life will be held accountable, we recognize that systemic racism, and the violence it fuels, is still creating tragedy and inequality across our country every single day,” Ross-Porter said. “We are all part of the work to undo this harm and reach true justice.”

Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz, who oversees the city’s largest charter school network, also issued a statement.

People react after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.
People react after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

“We are grateful that justice has been served and that the judicial process has worked as intended,” she wrote. “We recognize, however, that this verdict does not resolve the systemic inequities that led to Floyd’s death; nor does it heal the anguish we feel witnessing our fellow citizens die at the hands of the public servants tasked with protecting us.”

[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending