Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee are pressing the State Department to formally designate China’s suppression of its Uighur minority population as a genocide, according to a copy of the congressional communication obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Reps. Jim Banks (R., Ind.) and Joe Wilson (R., S.C.) say that mounting evidence indicates the Chinese government is committing genocide by forcing the country’s Uighur Muslim minority into concentration camps and using them as slave labor. The State Department is currently examining whether to classify China’s actions as genocide.
“The CCP has engaged in a systematic and widespread campaign of violence, torture, detention, forced sterilization, and enslavement of the Uighur Muslim people in [China’s Xinjiang province],” the lawmakers wrote, according to a copy of the letter sent Wednesday to the State Department. “Its actions reflect an intent to destroy, whether in whole or in part, this population.”
With its final days in office, the Trump administration could escalate tensions with Beijing by labeling its treatment of the Uighurs as genocide, a label that is rarely applied to global human rights situations and could compel U.S. intervention. Activist groups and lawmakers from both parties have pressed the outgoing administration to move forward with the designation for months, citing evidence that China is forcing the vulnerable population into work camps and worse, including reports of torture and forced abortions. Incoming president Joe Biden described the genocidal situation while on the campaign trail and could instruct his State Department to pick up the deliberations if President Donald Trump’s team fails to act.
“Our next move must be to condemn the CCP’s treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang as genocide, because that’s the word that accurately describes what has been going on there,” Banks, the Republican Study Committee chairman, told the Free Beacon. “If the world turns a blind eye to what’s going on in Xinjiang, it will embolden the CCP to do it again somewhere else.”
The issue has received bipartisan attention, with a group of senators from both parties introducing legislation late last year designating China’s treatment of Uighurs as genocide. Banks and Wilson are just the latest lawmakers to raise the issue and press for greater action. The United States has only applied the genocide label twice in its history, most recently in 2016 when the Obama administration classified ISIS as committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and Shia Muslims in the Middle East. The designation in China’s case would likely spark a wholesale rethinking about the U.S. economic relationship with the country.
Public reporting indicates that as many as one million Uighurs are imprisoned in labor camps and forced to work in Chinese factories, claims that have been elevated by senior members of the Trump administration, including National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, who accused China in 2019 of operating “concentration camps.”
Banks and Wilson maintain there is more than enough evidence for the State Department to move forward with a genocide classification, arguing China “has deliberately killed, tortured, detained, and inflicted harm against the Uighur people and created conditions calculated to bring about the destruction of the Uighurs in whole or in part.”
Chicago to create largest ‘guaranteed basic income’ program
The Chicago City Council is poised to vote this week on what would be one of the nation’s largest basic income programs, giving 5,000 low-income households $500 per month each using federal funding from the pandemic stimulus package.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) has proposed the more than $31 million program as part of her 2022 budget, which the city council is scheduled to consider on Wednesday. The one-year pilot, funded by the nearly $2 billion Chicago received from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan, is supported by most of city’s 50 aldermen. But it has received pushback from the 20-member Black Caucus, which has urged Lightfoot to redirect the money to violence prevention programs.
Lightfoot has said the program is motivated by her own childhood memories of hardship while growing up in Ohio. “I knew what it felt like to live check to check. When you’re in need, every bit of income helps,” she wrote in a tweet announcing the plan earlier this month.
Basic income programs have been spreading across the country since Stockton, Calif., started providing monthly stipends with no strings attached to 125 of its residents in 2019. Those stipends resulted in more full-time employment and improved mental and emotional well-being among recipients, according to preliminary findings reported earlier this year by researchers who helped design the program.
Michael Tubbs, who implemented the program as then-mayor of Stockton, noted that recipients’ largest expenditure was food, making up at least a third of spending each month, according to the report. “I had no idea so many people in my area were hungry,” Tubbs said.
Since Stockton’s program launched, about 40 other cities have considered or started similar efforts to target economic insecurity within their boundaries, according to Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, including Denver, Newark, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, New Orleans and Compton, Calif. A program in Los Angeles will provide 2,000 residents with a guaranteed income of $1,000 a month for a year.
The surge of interest has been fueled in part by the influx of money that cities have received from the coronavirus stimulus and the formation of Mayors for Universal Basic Income, an advocacy coalition that Tubbs founded last year.
Critics worry that guaranteed income programs will discourage people from finding jobs and drain the labor force, a particular concern amid the record job openings in the country this year, said Michael Faulkender, an assistant treasury secretary for economic policy during the Trump administration. Last week, the National Federation of Independent Business reported that 51 percent of small business owners have job openings they cannot fill, which more than doubles the historical average of 22 percent.
“There are still millions upon millions of low-skilled jobs out there, and you have small business owners who can’t find workers to join their companies,” said Faulkender, who teaches finance at the University of Maryland. Proposals like the one in Chicago feed the “process of reducing the willingness of people to participate in the workforce,” he said.
Opposition to federal entitlement programs, such as rent vouchers and food stamps, has been waged for decades, but advocates like Tubbs say that today, “the climate has changed.” Economic blows struck by recent natural disasters and the pandemic have proven that “the economy doesn’t work for a vast number of Americans,” he said.
The inequalities in Chicago are particularly stark. A 2019 report by an economic inequality task force created by the mayor’s office found that 500,000 Chicagoans — about 18 percent of the population — are living below or at the poverty level. Nearly half the city’s households do not have a basic safety net to help in emergencies or to prepare for future needs, such as homeownership or higher education. A quarter of households have more debt than income.
Lightfoot says the effects of the despair can be seen in recent drops in life expectancy among the poorest and the current spike in street violence throughout the city. Harish Patel, executive director of Economic Security For Illinois, an advocacy group that helped coordinate the report, says the pandemic has made the disparities worse.
The 5,000 recipients, who must be adults and make less than $35,000 a year, will be chosen randomly for the program. Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas said the city plans to track the recipients’ expenditures during the first six months and then provide more targeted assistance, such as help with paying heating bills or for food. The costs of supporting the program, he said, “is well worth the investment” when weighed against daily costs of poverty in Chicago, such as gun violence and incarceration.
Chicago’s basic income proposal dates back two years when a small group of aldermen led by Villegas proposed a resolution that would have established a $50 million basic income program. The subject is particularly important to Villegas, who considers himself “a product” of similar assistance. Following the death of his father when Villegas was 8 years old, his mother received $800 in monthly survivor benefits from Social Security until he and his younger brother turned 18. The funds supported child-care costs and gave her the freedom to work just one job, rather than two, so she could be with her sons more often.
Business groups ask White House to delay Biden Covid vaccine mandate until after the holidays
- White House officials at the OMB are meeting with industry lobbyists as it conducts the final review of President Joe Biden’s Covid vaccine mandate.
- Business groups are asking the administration to wait until after the holiday shopping season to implement the rule.
- They say the mandate could exacerbate labor shortages and supply chain problems.
Worried that President Joe Biden’s Covid vaccine mandate for private companies could cause a mass exodus of employees, business groups are pleading with the White House to delay the rule until after the holiday season.
White House officials at the Office of Management and Budget held dozens of meetings with labor unions, industry lobbyists and private individuals last week as the administration conducts its final review of the mandate, which will require businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure they are vaccinated against Covid or tested weekly for the virus. It is estimated to cover roughly two-thirds of the private sector workforce.
OMB officials have several meetings lined up Monday and Tuesday with groups representing dentists, trucking companies, staffing companies and realtors, among others.
The American Trucking Associations, which will meet with the OMB on Tuesday, warned the administration last week that many drivers will likely quit rather than get vaccinated, further disrupting the national supply chain at time when the industry is already short 80,000 drivers.
The trucking association estimates companies covered by the mandate could lose 37% of drivers through retirements, resignations and workers switching to smaller companies not covered by the requirements.
“Now placing vaccination mandates on employers, which in turn force employees to be vaccinated, will create a workforce crisis for our industry and the communities, families and businesses we serve,” Chris Spear, the association’s president and CEO, wrote in a letter to the OMB last Thursday.
Retailers are also particularly concerned the mandate could trigger a spike in resignations that would exacerbate staffing problems at businesses already short on people, said Evan Armstrong, a lobbyist at the Retail Industry Leaders Association.
“It has been a hectic holiday season already, as you know, with supply chain struggles,” Armstrong told CNBC after a meeting with White House officials last Monday. “This is a difficult policy to implement. It would be even more difficult during the holiday season.”
Thirty percent of unvaccinated workers said they would leave their jobs rather than comply with a vaccine or testing mandate, according to a KFF poll published last month. Goldman Sachs, in an analysis published in September, said the mandate could hurt the already tight labor market. However, it said survey responses are often exaggerated and not as many people will actually quit.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration delivered its final rule to the OMB on Oct. 12, and the mandate is expected to take effect soon after the agency completes its review.
The National Retail Federation, the trucking association and the retail leaders group are asking White House officials to give businesses 90 days to comply with the mandate, delaying implementation until late January at the earliest.
The Business Roundtable told CNBC it supports the White House’s vaccination efforts, but the administration “should allow the time necessary for employers to comply, and that includes taking into account employee retention issues, supply chain challenges and the upcoming holiday season.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which met with the OMB on Oct. 15, also asked the administration to delay implementing the rule until after the holiday season. Officials at the OMB declined to comment on the implementation period.
However, former officials at OSHA, which will enforce the mandate, told CNBC that businesses will likely have some time to implement the rules.
Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary of OSHA during the Obama administration, said the administration will probably give businesses about 10 weeks, as they did for federal contractors, until employees have to be fully vaccinated.
San Francisco Families Hire Private Security Amid Soaring Crime
‘We don’t feel safe in our neighborhood,’ one San Francisco resident said
More than 150 families living in San Francisco have hired private security to patrol their streets amid brazen property crimes, with some saying they no longer feel safe in their own neighborhood.
“We don’t feel safe in our neighborhood,” resident Katie Lyons, told CBS SF. “And we have an alarm, we have cameras on our property, but we want the extra security of having someone have eyes on our place.”
Lyons and other families hired patrol special officer Alan Byard to help patrol the streets of the city’s Marina District following repeated instances of car break-ins and home burglaries.
“It’s a nice area down here, people are afraid of what’s been going on,” said Byard. “They want a safe place to raise their kids. In the last year, I’ve had 10 of my clients move out of the city.”
Patrol Special Officers are overseen by the police commission as they work in their capacity as private security, CBS SF reported.
Byard explained that he patrols the Marina District in his car from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. looking for suspicious people. He charges $65 per residence each month.
He added that his business from residential clients has doubled since the coronavirus pandemic, starting with 70 families and growing to 150 families in the Marina District alone.
Another Marina District resident, Allan Brown has lived in the area for 20 years and was asked whether crime has gotten worse in recent days.
“Oh absolutely, absolutely. This place used to be – nothing would ever happen here,” he responded.
Lyons added that it’s not uncommon to see stolen property outside her home, and noted she doesn’t walk with a purse outside at night.
“Especially at night, I don’t walk with a purse, I’ll drive, or I’ll take an Uber, and it’s beginning to become a daytime problem too,” added Lyons.
Car burglaries are the biggest problem for the area, Byard told CBS SF, while petty theft and burglaries are also common.
The city’s Central District, which includes tourist hot spots such as Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown, struggled with a staggering 753% increase in car break-ins from May 2020 to May 2021.
Instances of the crime have continued over the summer and into the fall. Just last week, a person was seen on video breaking car windows in the city’s Fisherman’s Wharf area, and stealing items from the vehicles.
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