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Nearly 50,000 U.S. auto workers at General Motors embark on strike

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Nearly 50,000 U.S. auto workers on Monday embarked on strike, after a key union and General Motors (GM), failed to reach an agreement on wages and increase hiring.
The walkout started one minute before midnight at dozens of plants and distribution warehouses in 9 states. A collective bargaining agreement had expired over the weekend.
The United Auto Workers voted on Sunday to embark on strike on Monday, demanding a share of profits and better benefits, saying the labourers contributed to GM’s recovery after the 2008 crash and deserve better compensation.
Moreover, the cost of healthcare had become contentious between GM leadership and the union. The company wants to prioritise spending on healthcare, while workers were no ready to pay more.
Meanwhile, as the U.S. heads into a presidential election next year, healthcare had become a key issue for voters more generally across the country.
Left-leaning Democrats were pushing for a radical overhaul of the system which would give the government a more integral role.
However, concerns about a potentially slowing economy were likely weighing on both sides of the GM strike, with workers looking for job security and the company considering its own bottom line going ahead.
According to Ted Krumm, the leader of negotiations for the union said the auto workers make some of the greatest products in the world as well as making GM so profitable.
GM said in a statement that it had made an offer to workers that include: better benefits, wages and investments in new plants and other facilities.
The strike is the first by GM workers since 2007, when workers staged a two-day walkout.

YI/YEE

Edited by Yahaya Isah

Foreign

Portugal bars entry of nearly 3,000 people at land borders amid pandemic

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Portugal‘s Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) said on Friday that it had prevented about 3,000 people from entering its land borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in an operation that reached approximately 500,000 people in the last two and a half months.

With the collaboration of the National Republican Guard (GNR), another 15 people were also detained at Authorized Crossing Points (PPA) with Spain, SEF said in an official statement.

The PPA with the largest movement of people was that of Valenca, where over 200,000 people were handled, followed by that of Caia, with around 70,000, and Vilar Formoso, with 60,000.

The control of land borders with Spain has been in effect since 23:00 on March 16 at nine authorized crossing points and will remain closed until 00:00 on June 15.

According to the SEF, tourist and leisure travel between the two countries is prevented, with only the transport of goods, cross-border workers, seasonal workers, emergency and rescue vehicles and emergency services being allowed.

The Directorate-General for Health (DGS) announced 14 more deaths of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the country’s total deaths to 1,383. The number of infected people increased by 350 to 31,946 in total.

(XINHUA)

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German weather service records one of sunniest springs in nearly 70 years

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BERLIN, May 29 (Xinhua)– The frequent influence of high-pressure areas had brought one of the sunniest springs in Germany since the beginning of recording in 1951, Germany‘s National Meteorological Service (DWD) announced on Friday.

With 705 hours of sunshine between March and May, almost eight hours per day, the long-term average of 467 hours was exceeded by around 50 percent, according to a first evaluation of data from around 2,000 measuring stations.

Spring 2020 in Germany was “extremely sunny, quite warm and much too dry,” DWD noted. Germany was “predominantly in the range of warm air masses, few cold air inrushes were mostly of short duration.”

This spring in Germany was also one of the six springs with the lowest rainfall since 1881, according to DWD.

Already in April, Joachim Rukwied, president of the German Farmers’ Association (DBV) warned that “it could again be a very difficult year for German agriculture if it continues to remain so dry.”

German Minister of Food and Agriculture Julia Kloeckner also stressed that “another year of drought would hit many farms very hard” and added that the concerns were taken seriously and the situation would be monitored.

According to DWD, temperatures in April had been well above average but were followed by temperatures slightly below average in May, although some weather stations in the south of Germany had “recorded up to seven summer days with more than 25 degrees Celsius.”

(XINHUA)

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Chile sees nearly 87,000 COVID-19 cases, 890 deaths

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Chile on Thursday said a total of 86,943 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and 890 have died from the disease.

In the 24-hour period ending 9 p.m. Wednesday, healthcare workers detected 4,654 new cases and 49 more patients died, the largest number in a single day since the start of the outbreak.

Of the new cases, 4,128 showed symptoms and 526 were asymptomatic. Some 36,150 COVID-19 patients have recovered.

According to Health Minister Jaime Manalich, 3,707 healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19, with “a very small number of them requiring hospitalization.”

The lockdown in the capital Santiago and the metropolitan area, home to 7 million people, which was due to be lifted on May 29, has been indefinitely extended due to spikes in the number of infections.

“There continue to be many social gatherings. If each of us is not convinced of the social distancing measures, this is going to be prolonged,” Manalich said.

In other parts of the country, some communities are just imposing lockdowns while others are beginning to relax theirs.

(XINHUA)

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Number of unemployed jobseekers in Finland nearly doubles in April compared with last year

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Due to layoffs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of unemployed jobseekers in Finland nearly doubled in April this year, said the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in a press release issued on Wednesday.

A total of 433,100 unemployed jobseekers were registered at the Employment and Economic Development Offices by the end of April, 124,000 more than in the previous month, and 203,400 more than in April 2019. The year-on-year increase rate reached 88.6 percent.

Among the unemployed jobseekers, the number of those aged under 25 was 56,300, showing an increase of 27,800 from April 2019, and the number of people aged over 50 was 141,500, up by 53,900 compared with one year ago.

The spike in the number of unemployed jobseekers and particularly in the number of full-time lay-offs was due to the anti-epidemic restrictions, explained the ministry.

The southern province of Uusimaa, including the Capital Region, was hit hardest by the wave of job losses. The number of unemployed jobseekers in Uusimaa surged by 115 percent in April this year, compared to the same month one year earlier.

Uusimaa is Finland’s most populous province, with 1.67 million residents. The region has been the worst affected by the pandemic, accounting for about 85 percent of the country’s confirmed COVID-19 infections, said the ministry.

Meanwhile, on a year-on-year basis, the number of new job vacancies decreased by 27 percent in April, from 68,800 to 50,100.

The latest data released by Statistics Finland showed that in April 2020, the unemployment rate was 8.1 percent, and the employment rate was 70.1 percent.

According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, as of Wednesday afternoon, Finland had confirmed a total of 6,692 COVID-19 cases, of which the number of new cases was 64. The death toll reached 313, one more than the previous day. According to a preliminary estimate, at least 5,100 people have recovered from the disease.

(XINHUA)

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Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases nearly 120,000: Africa CDC

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The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the African continent reached 119,391 as the death toll from the ongoing pandemic surged to 3,589 as of Wednesday afternoon, the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

The Africa CDC, in its latest continental situation update report issued on Wednesday, said that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surged from 115,616 on Tuesday to 119,391 as of Wednesday afternoon, registering some 3,775 new COVID-19 cases during the stated period.

The death toll from the pandemic also surged from 3,479 on Tuesday to 3,589 as of Wednesday afternoon, eventually registering some 110 new COVID-19 inflicted deaths across the continent during the last twenty-four-hours period, according to the Africa CDC.

Figures from the Africa CDC also showed that some 48,618 people who have been infected with the COVID-19 have recovered across the continent as of Wednesday afternoon.

Figures from the Africa CDC also showed that amid the rapid spread of the virus across the continent, the highly COVID-19 affected African countries include South Africa with 24,264 confirmed cases, Egypt with 18,756 confirmed cases, Algeria with 8,697 confirmed cases, Nigeria with 8,344 confirmed cases, and Morocco with 7,577 confirmed cases.

The Africa CDC said that the Northern African region is the most affected area across the continent both in terms of positive COVID-19 cases, as well as the number of deaths.

The continental disease control and prevention agency further added that the COVID-19 pandemic had spread across all 54 African countries.

On Tuesday, the 55-member African Union (AU) has received the latest donations of medical supplies from China, displaying China‘s continued solidarity and support to the continent’s battle against COVID-19.

The latest batch of medical equipment donated by China to the 55-member pan African bloc mainly include 20,000 pieces of face masks, 2 oxygen generators and other medical equipment, according to the AU.

Deputy Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Kwesi Quartey, said during the handing over ceremony at the AU headquarters that the long-standing relations of China and Africa would continue further as Africa sees China a strategic partner that shares similar historical background and common interests with the continent.

Amid the spread of the coronavirus in Africa, the Chinese government and companies have been expressing their solidarity and support to Africans in the fight against the pandemic, by continually donating medical equipment and supplies that are badly needed on the continent.

(XINHUA)

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Poll shows African Americans, Latinos nearly 3 times as likely to know someone who died of COVID-19

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African Americans and Latinos are nearly three times as likely to personally know someone who has died of the coronavirus than white Americans, according to a new poll released Friday.

Thirty percent of black adults and 26 percent of Latino adults across the country said they know a victim of the coronavirus, who died either from the disease or from complications related to the virus. For white adults, the corresponding figure is only 10 percent, the ABC News/Ipsos poll found.

The findings are consistent with local and national data reported by states and cities that revealed racial and ethnic minorities suffer a disproportionate share of the negative health and economic outcomes from the pandemic.

In New York City, black Americans and Latinos are two times more likely to be hospitalized and to die from COVID-19 than whites, said an ABC News report.

In the southern state of Louisiana, although black residents only comprise a third of the population, they accounted for 70 percent of the deaths in the state, as of last month, according to the report.

The new poll came as the death toll approaches 100,000 and confirmed cases of COVID-19 top 1.5 million in the country.

(XINHUA)

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AIIB allocates nearly 100 mln USD fund to help Georgia fight COVID-19

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The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) agreed to provide a 91 million-Euro loan (about 99.7 million U.S. dollars) to help Georgia respond to threats caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Georgia’s Finance Ministry announced Thursday.

The 91,340,000-Euro loan agreement signed Thursday is under World Bank’s Emergency COVID-19 Response Project for Georgia, according to the Ministry.

The Ministry said that the fund aims to support the country’s health care sector, increase the capacity of the epidemiological research, expand general testing and facilitate access to critical medical devices to combat COVID-19, said the Ministry, adding that it will also be used to provide financial aid to the COVID-19-affected families and individuals in the country.

Earlier in April, the World Bank forecast Georgian economic growth to slow down sharply this year, coming close to zero percent in 2020 due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenging external environment.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the country reached 721 on Thursday, according to the Georgian government.

(XINHUA)

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Nearly 3,600 convicts granted conditional release in Rwanda: official

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A total of 3,596 convicts from different prisons in Rwanda were set free on Wednesday after receiving conditional release from the government, the Rwanda Correctional Services said.

The convicts were approved for conditional release by the cabinet on Monday, spokesperson of Rwanda Correctional Services Hillary Sengabo told national Radio Rwanda.

Those given conditional release are advised to reintegrate into the community and restrain from committing other crimes which may lead to their re-arrest, added Sengabo.

The beneficiaries of conditional release must have been convicted of minor crimes and exhibited high discipline in prison, while convicts of serious crimes such as murder, terrorism, human trafficking, corruption, defilement and recidivists are not eligible, he added.

The Rwandan cabinet on Monday approved a Ministerial Order granting conditional release to the 3,596 convicts, according to a communique issued by the Prime Minister’s office.

President Paul Kagame also informed the cabinet that he had pardoned 50 young women convicted for abortion, the communique said.

Government in April temporarily released detainees of minor offenses at different police stations whose cases were yet to be ruled on by courts, as part of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

(XINHUA)

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Philippines reports 224 new COVID-19 cases, nearly 13,000 in total

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The Philippine health department on Tuesday reported that 224 more people have contracted the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 12,942.

In a daily bulletin, the Department of Health (DOH) said 114 more patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the number of recoveries to 2,843. It added that six more patients have died from the COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 837.

The DOH said 174 cases, or 78 percent, of the daily cases were reported in Metro Manila, 33 cases, or 15 percent, were reported from other parts of the country, and 17 cases, or 7 percent, in the Central Visayas region in the central Philippines.

(XINHUA)

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