Categories
Articles

The Black Panther: Your Reflections Matter

The Black Panther has made history at the box-office. Have you ever been so excited about a thing that in anticipation of that thing? If no, please go watch first and reflect on it how Ryan Cooglar and Joe Robert Cole introduced in a brilliant splash page that opens Black Panther. Secretary Everett K. Ross is a white CIA agent, who finds himself in over his head as liaison to Black Panther. Awkward, cowardly, and far too concerned with how others see him.

Black people have been given superheroes before.  Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Dr King, Malcolm X, Zora Neale Hurston, Muhammed Ali, Maya Angelou, Magic Johnson.  We’ve seen the strength of Black people in politics, sports, social movements, and perhaps most often in entertainment, but never like this before.

This is a story about  T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life. Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” is now playing in theatres.

I found balance. I loved T’Challa right away, but many people empathized with Ross’s struggle to navigate an entirely new world. Ross is capable but utterly unequipped for T’Challa and Wakanda.

Black Panther. (Posters: Marvel)

A white guy reflects on the Black Panther in his own way, “It is a movie about a superhero, but not just any superhero—a black superhero. And that’s what has me a bit perplexed. The movie was excellent, but it moved me emotionally in a way I wasn’t expecting. The plotline was inspiring, the acting was captivating, and the special effects were dope. But that’s not what got me.”

Different people express their own opinions but for me, the Black Panther was all it is worth. “I am learning more and more about the Black Panther Party every day, This job has really opened my eyes to the Civil Rights Movement; in school, I did not learn much about the Black Panthers,” said Raquel Booker. “I learned a little about Martin Luther King Jr., I heard about Malcolm X. This project has made me more interested in what was going on during that time and what people were going through: with fighting wars, boycotts, and sit-ins, so generations to come would not have to be put through the torment and pain they experienced.”

From the kick-butt African women guardians who led revolts and didn’t stand for an incompetent leader, to the hero that these black kids in the streets needed to look up to, to the representation of African characters, and the call in solidarity with brothers and sisters of this earth, Black Panther led the way for social reform.

It should be time for all of us to understand that there is nothing wrong with having diverse friends. Encourage each other to break social norms, show love to all your brothers and sisters, not just the ones that look like you. If you’re only looking through one lens, you are missing a lot of scenery.

Black Panther premiered in Los Angeles on January 29, 2018, and was released theatrically in the United States on February 16, 2018, in 2D, 3DIMAX and other premium large formats. It received critical acclaim, with praise directed toward its visuals, screenplay, characters, direction, costume design, action sequences, soundtrack, and performances. Critics considered it as one of the best films set in the MCU and noted its cultural significance. It has grossed over $462 million worldwide, and its four-day opening weekend gross of $242.1 million in the United States was the second-highest of all-time. Its three-day gross of $202 million was the fifth-highest of all-time and also set the record for the biggest debut by an African American director.

Categories
Articles

Rohingya in Rathedaung need international attention

By Saifullah Muhammad,

Rathedaung is the administrative town of Rathedaung Township in the Arakan State, the westernmost part of Myanmar (Burma). It is 65 kilometres north of Sittwe, where 40 thousand Rohingyas lived in 24 villages till Aug. 25, 2017.

Since the beginning of the state-sponsored violence against the innocent,  and helpless Rohingya people in June 2012, at least 20 major casualties have been reported, while the unknown number of tragedy cases remains behind the silence.

Myanmar security force personnel stand guard while a mob (background) look on following unrest at an Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp for Muslim Rohingyas on the outskirts of Sittwe town in Rakhine State on August 9, 2013. Photo by AFP

It is true that most of the Rohingya villages are located in adjacent and in between Rakhine villages and model villages ( NaTaLa). According to some recorded documentation, on June 13, 2012, at least 35 Rohingya innocent people including children, women and elderly persons were brutally killed by the extremist Rakhine hooligans in collaboration with the Government forces. Meanwhile, 120 households were burnt to ashes in Zeekun Dan village (Kudichaung) and Karu Kun Tan village (Sera-prang).

On 19th June 2012, Anauk Pyin village was attacked and about 50 houses were burnt down. The villagers wanted to avoid the clash but 2 innocent Rohingyas were slaughtered before the eyes of the other villagers. As a result, a tense situation broke out and unavoidably, Rohingyas had to confront extremist Rakhine in order to defend their safer lives.

Later on, the Rohingya approached the authority for help but they consistently refused to protect them. On 20th June 2012, Military came to the village and carried out arbitrary arrests including women and children and bitterly tortured them. Mosques were destroyed, Holy Qurans were burnt down and women were harassed in the open sky.Among the Rohingya villagers, 185 were arrested, while 14 educated people forced out of the village issuing arbitrary warrants. Rohingyas were sent to Sittwe central prison without trial and reportedly in the half-dead situation. They have repeatedly tortured again in the jail where 4 of them had to face untimely deaths. In the same way, the village headman was severally beaten and tortured while his stomach was blown on the spot.

On the other hand, the arrogant Rakhine and Burmese military authority looted all the belongings of Rohingya and did not even leave a match to put fire or a needle to sew torn cloths. Consequently, the Rohingya villagers met with severe hardship for their survival in all circumstances, even to cook food. Finally, the entire Rohingya villagers used an oven to cook foods in unavoidable circumstances. It is believed that other 24 Rohingya villages in Rathedaung would have been burnt down one after another had the villagers failed to properly defend the Rakhine extremists’ attacks.

Currently, innocent children, teenage girls, women, elderly persons and every individual Rohingyas are passing lives with fears and tears as the military personnel or other authority raid villages and simply arrest innocent people and loot their properties. Meanwhile, the aforesaid forces treat the Rohingya as animals with the open rape of teenage females in front of their beloved family members and harass the others. Thus the teenage girls need to pretend like old women putting lime on their hair as usual.

On Sept. 27, 2012, a village Pin Chaw (Fraingchong) was also attacked by Rakhine from different parts of Arakan State. All the villagers fled to a Rohingya village called Chilkhali to escape mass killings leaving behind all their properties. They dared not confront the government forces and the Rakhine terrorists seeing the situation of Anuk Pin village, Then the extremist Rakhines burnt down all the houses and uprooted everything including plants and animals were also not left.

It is unbelievable to everyone that the existence of Rohingya villages in the surrounding of Rathidaung was brutally demolished.

On 25th October 2012, the village Yung Pin Gyi (Muzair) was attacked by Rakhine with the help of Military in the second round of violence occurred in whole Arakan State. Hundreds of them were killed, tortured raped and jailed but the other remaining villagers did not leave the village. It is very pity to say that their village is situated inside most of the Rakhine villages.

“We want peace and harmony and have never tried to clash with Rakhines. We always respect the law and orders of the Government but why we have been attacked and made isolated, we do not know.” – A Rohingya elder
Currently, the Rohingya dare not come out from the village. Their livelihoods and survival have become extremely hard as they can’t go for fishing, firewood collection, farming and etc. The Rohingyas in the villages of Anauk-Pyin and Muzair have been besieged and economically crippled by the majority Rakhine extremists. As a result, the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) has been extending minimum food rations to the starving people on monthly basis. Enroute to the Rohingya villages, the WFP often faces unexpected troubles and challenges in the hands of both arrogant Rakhines and the military forces. In one state, the arrogant Rakhines blocked the canal road as a whole by building unnecessary fence and bridge.

Based on the situation, the UN’s WFP is compelled to approach to the Rakhine community with a request to remove bridge blocking in order to have access. However, the Rakhines gave a cruel response to the agency that they would not do it because it cost them money. When WFP and some Rohingya elders in other regions said that they would compensate the Rakhines a triple amount, they have ignored the request.

Therefore, the WFP officials extended the same request to the Township Administrative Officials and the Border Guard Police Commander of the region to have access but they also simply ignored.

“Now, the vulnerable and besieged Rohingyas in the villages are going to face extreme poverty with constantan starvation as they have no livelihoods, no opportunity for self-employment and are rendered literally jobless,” said a village elder. “When the inquiry commission was sent, there was no one to talk to them in Anauk Pyin village as all the educated people have been either put on the wanted list or arbitrarily jailed. Leaving behind the fear of getting killed, someone from us talked to the inquiry commission and explained what was actually happened against us. Then the commission consoled us and came to know the reality observing the circumstances of the village.”

Similarly in Muzair, on 1st November 2012, the inquiry commission came together with a Military commander in chief Hla Myint and Ko Ko Naing. And on the following day (i.e. 2nd November 2012) commander in Chief Than Thet reached there by helicopter and interviewed some of the Rohingyas. They also explained the truth and the commission also reported the reality as it happened for the first time in the history.

Some Rohingya elders of Rathedaung from outside tried their best for the release of the innocent people jailed for 10 years and 15 years respectively without any guilty. After so many difficulties, 120 Rohingyas from Anauk Pyin village and 12 from Sera-prang were released and jail-terms were shortened for the remaining people with the cooperation of some lawyers.

The Common Rohingya residents of Rathedaung say “we want peace and harmony and have never tried to clash with Rakhines. We always respect the law and orders of the Government but why we have been attacked and made isolated, we do not know.”

In achieving “peace and harmonious atmosphere,” the Rohingya people of Rathedaung from exile are also trying to help those who are still languishing in the dire situation in the country as they are deprived of their basic needs, even to have grassroots development through all possible means of education. They are facing unexpected challenges in their daily lives as they don’t have little educated and wealthy people who could be able to assist them in the fields of socio-cultural activities, health and sanitation to motivate them by lobbying with the Government.

Saifullah Muhammad is a student of journalism in Canada and a Rohingya activist. He can be reached at saifulrohin@yahoo.com

Categories
Articles

Is the world’s largest retailer underpaying its employees?

By Saifullah Muhammad,

WHEN Amazon announced in 2010 that it would build a distribution centre in Lexington County, South Carolina, the decision was hailed as a victory for the Palmetto State. Today the e-commerce giant employs thousands of workers at the centre. Just 3.5% of the local workforce is out of work. Alas, the influx of jobs has not boosted wages for the region’s forklift drivers and order-fillers. In the years since Amazon opened its doors in Lexington County, annual earnings for warehouse workers in the area have fallen from $47,000 to $32,000, a decline of over 30% (see chart 1).

An employee exits the warehouse floor of the Amazon.com warehouse in Hyderabad, India. The company is looking for a new second headquarters, and the only Canadian city on the shortlist is Toronto. (Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Lexington County is not alone. Since Amazon opened a warehouse in Chesterfield, Virginia, warehouse wages in the region have fallen by 17%. In Tracy, California, they have dropped by 16%. Flat or falling industry wages are common in the cities and towns where Amazon opens distribution centres, according to an analysis by The Economist. Government figures show that after Amazon opens a storage depot, local wages for warehouse workers fall by an average of 3%. In places where Amazon operates, such workers earn about 10% less than similar workers employed elsewhere.

About 44 cents out of every dollar spent online in America flows to Amazon, according to eMarketer, a research firm. The firm’s success can be attributed in part to speed and convenience. To get orders to customers as quickly as possible, the company relies on a vast network of warehouses the size of aircraft carriers where the company stores its products and processes orders. Amazon operates more than 75 “fulfilment centres” and 35 sorting centres in America, manned by 125,000 full-time workers.

To keep costs in check, Amazon must not only maintain dozens of warehouses but run them efficiently. Whereas traditional shop workers might remain idle for hours at a time, Amazon’s workers—the “stowers” that stock inventory, the “pickers” that pluck items from shelves and the “packers” that box them up for shipment—are constantly moving. Pickers are equipped with hand-held devices that show them what each item looks like, where it may be found, and how to get there as quickly as possible. As they navigate row after row of shelves, timers count down the seconds needed to retrieve each item. To meet performance targets, pickers must collect as many as 1,000 items and walk up to 15 miles in a single shift.

According to available data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) for 35 counties, warehouse workers in counties where Amazon operates a fulfilment centre earn about $41,000 per year, compared with $45,000 per year in the rest of the country, a difference of nearly 10% (see chart 2). The BLS data also show that in the ten quarters before the opening of a new Amazon centre, local warehouse wages increase by an average of 8%. In the ten quarters after its arrival, they fall by 3%.

Why would Amazon pay its employees less than other firms in the industry? Michael Mandel, an economist at the Progressive Policy Institute, a think-tank, says it may be because the company’s warehouses are in areas that have been “left behind”. But on most economic measures—including wages, unemployment and poverty—counties with Amazon warehouses are no different from the rest of the country. In fact, they are generally better-off. Perhaps, suggests David Autor, a labour economist at MIT, Amazon’s workers are young and inexperienced. There is some evidence for this. Amazon’s employees tend to be younger—data from the Census Bureau suggest that nearly half of its warehouse employees are under 35. Job tenure at the company is typically just one year, according to PayScale, a research firm.

Another possible explanation for Amazon’s pay is its reliance on unskilled workers with minimal qualifications. David Neumark of the University of California, Irvine, who has written about the impact of Walmart’s growth on retail wages, says Amazon’s highly automated warehouses may not require as many workers who can say, operate a pallet jack. Staff benefits may also play a role. Amazon offers its full-time employees health care, retirement savings plans and company shares. Such generous perks may explain why the company pays below-market wages.

New research offers yet another possibility. An NBER working paper by José Azar of the IESE business school, Ioana Marinescu of the University of Pennsylvania and Marshall Steinbaum of the Roosevelt Institute finds that a relatively small number of employers account for a large share of job opportunities in many American communities. In places where such labour-market concentration is highest, wages tend to be lower. These findings suggest that if Amazon is the only major employer in the cities and towns where it operates, the company can offer wages that are well below those of its competitors.

Now, Our region intends to throw its hat into the ring for Amazon’s second corporate headquarters. the e-commerce giant has opened bidding to cities across North America to be the home of its so-called “HQ2,” which will hire as many as 50,000 new employees and bring billions of dollars in investments.

According to Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky, the Waterloo Economic Development Corporation is working with the province on a sales pitch, but right now it’s early days in terms of determining how the bid will look.

“Amazon will get many proposals from many states and many provinces, and that’s why it’s really important for us to take a provincial approach,” Jaworsky says, “to look at what our strengths are here, and make sure we address those needs.”

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic says it’s a coordinated bid between the entire Region.

“We made the decision well over a year ago to approach any of these kinds of economic development initiatives collaboratively through the Waterloo Economic Development Corporation,” “So I think that the fact that the bid is out there now is a great opportunity for this Region.”

A spokesperson at the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth tells our newsroom their officials are fully engaged in the process, adding that Toronto and Ottawa have also been in touch with Queen’s Park. But from the province’s perspective, they just want Amazon to put its massive complex somewhere in Ontario.

Art Sinclair with the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce thinks we have what it takes to make a competitive offer.

“We’ve established ourselves as being a global centre for technology,” Sinclair says. “I think Amazon would see a lot of positives here that would want them to seriously consider establishing a major presence in the Region.”

Categories
Articles

A new World with digital interface

You need to know five interesting things happening right now in the world. Do you know the world’s biggest bank, with no actual currencies? Have you ever noticed the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content? Have you ever heard of the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles? Did you ever see the world’s most valuable retailer, has no inventory? And do you believe the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate?

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and worldwide payment system. It is the first decentralized digital currency, as the system works without a central bank or single administrator. The network is peer-to-peer and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes through the use of cryptography and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. Bitcoin was invented by an unknown person or group of people under the name Satoshi Nakamoto and released as open-source software in 2009.

Bitcoins are created as a reward for a process known as mining. They can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services. As of February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepted bitcoin as payment. Research produced by the University of Cambridge estimates that in 2017, there are 2.9 to 5.8 million unique users using a cryptocurrency wallet, most of them using bitcoin.

Because of bitcoin’s decentralized nature, nation-states cannot shut down the network or alter its technical rules. However, the use of bitcoin can be criminalized and be shutting down exchanges and the peer-to-peer economy in a given country would constitute a “de facto ban”. The legal status of bitcoin varies substantially from country to country and is still undefined or changing in many of them. While some countries have explicitly allowed its use and trade, others have banned or restricted it. Regulations and bans that apply to bitcoin probably extend to similar cryptocurrency systems.

Bitcoin. Photo by financialtribune

The word bitcoin first occurred and was defined in the white paper that was published on 31 October 2008. It is a compound of the words bit and coin. The white paper frequently uses the shorter coinThere is no uniform convention for bitcoin capitalization. Some sources use Bitcoin, capitalized, to refer to the technology and network and bitcoin, lowercase, to refer to the unit of account. The Wall Street JournalThe Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Oxford English Dictionary advocate use of lowercase bitcoin in all cases, a convention followed throughout this article.

The use of bitcoin by criminals has attracted the attention of financial regulators, legislative bodies, law enforcement, and the media. The FBI prepared an intelligence assessment, the SEC has issued a pointed warning about investment schemes using virtual currencies, and the US Senate held a hearing on virtual currencies in November 2013.

Several news outlets have asserted that the popularity of bitcoins hinges on the ability to use them to purchase illegal goods. In 2014, researchers at the University of Kentucky found “robust evidence that computer programming enthusiasts and illegal activity drive interest in bitcoin, and find limited or no support for political and investment motives.

Facebook

The world’s most popular media company, Facebook, creates no content. So Facebook goes into news, Twitter into television and so on. And because they can be so profitable we will see more and more challenger interfaces, each trying to find some way to get their icon on to your mobile phone or iPad.

Facebook has more than 2 billion monthly active users as of June 2017. Its popularity has led to prominent media coverage for the company, including significant scrutiny over privacy and the psychological effects it has on users. In recent years, the company has faced intense pressure over the amount of fake newshate speech and violence prevalent on its services, all of which it is attempting to counteract.

In February 2015, Facebook announced that it had reached two million active advertisers with most of the gain coming from small businesses. An active advertiser is an advertiser that has advertised on the Facebook platform in the last 28 days. In March 2016, Facebook announced that it reached three million active advertisers with more than 70% from outside the US. 

Uber

The world’s largest taxi firm, Uber, owns no cars. It is a global taxi technology company headquartered in San FranciscoCalifornia, United States, operating in 633 cities worldwide. It develops, markets and operates the Uber car transportation and food delivery mobile apps. Uber drivers use their own cars although drivers can rent a car to drive with Uber.

Uber offers various service levels. Not all service levels are available in every city. UberPOOL is the least expensive level of service, in which the customer may share the ride with another passenger going in the same general direction. UberX (marketed as UberPOP in some European cities) is a level of service in which the rider will get a private ride. Other levels of service provide for a black luxury car, larger car, car with a car seat, SUV, wheelchair accessible transport, and pet transport.

Alibaba

The world’s most valuable retailer, Alibaba, carries no stock. Alibaba is a Chinese multinational e-commerceretailInternetAI and technology conglomerate founded in 1999 that provides consumer-to-consumerbusiness-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services via web portals, as well as electronic payment services, shopping search engines and data-centric cloud computing services. It owns and operates a diverse array of businesses around the world in numerous sectors, and is named as one of the world’s most admired companies by Fortune.

In December 1999, Jack Ma and 17 other founders released their first online marketplace, named “Alibaba Online”. From 1999 to 2000, Alibaba Group raised a total of US$25 Million from SoftBank, Goldman Sachs, Fidelity and some other institutions. In December 2001, Alibaba.com achieved profitability. In May 2003, Taobao was founded as a consumer e-commerce platform. In December 2004, Alipay, which started as a service on the Taobao platform, became a separate business. In October 2005, Alibaba Group took over the operation of China Yahoo! as part of its strategic partnership with Yahoo! Inc.

Airbnb

Finally, the world’s largest accommodation provider, Airbnb, owns no property. Something big is going on. Airbnb is an American company which hosts an online marketplace and hospitality service, for people to lease or rent short-term lodging including vacation rentalsapartment rentals, homestayshostel beds, or hotel rooms. The company does not own any lodging; it is a broker which receives percentage service fees from both guests and hosts in conjunction with every booking. In January 2018 the company had over 3,000,000 lodging listings in 65,000 cities and 191 countries.

Shortly after moving to San Francisco in October 2007, roommates and former schoolmates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia could not afford the rent for their loft apartment. Chesky and Gebbia came up with the idea of putting an air mattress in their living room and turning it into a bed and breakfast. The goal at first was just “to make a few bucks”.[53][54] In February 2008, Nathan Blecharczyk, Chesky’s former roommate, joined as the Chief Technology Officer and the third co-founder of the new venture, called AirBed & Breakfast. This is also where the name “Airbnb” originates from. They put together a website which offered short-term living quarters, breakfast, and a unique business networking opportunity for those who were unable to book a hotel in the saturated market.[56] The site Airbedandbreakfast.com officially launched on August 11, 2008. The founders had their first customers in town in the summer of 2008, during the Industrial Design Conference held by Industrial Designers Society of America, where travelers had a hard time finding lodging in the city.

To help fund the site, the founders created special edition breakfast cereals, with presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain as the inspiration for “Obama O’s” and “Cap’n McCains”. In two months, 800 boxes of cereal were sold at $40 each, which generated more than $30,000 for the company’s incubation. It also got the company noticed by computer programmer Paul Graham, who invited the founders to the January 2009 winter training session of his startup incubator, Y Combinator, which provided them with training and $20,000 in funding in exchange for a small interest in the company. With the website already built, they used the $20,000 Y-Combinator investment to fly to New York City to meet users and promote the site. They returned to San Francisco with a profitable business model to present to West Coast investors. By March 2009, the site had 10,000 users and 2,500 listings.

In March 2017, Airbnb raised US$1 billion in additional funding, bringing their total funding raised to date to more than US$3 billion and valuing the company at US$31 billion.

The World economy are within the reach of a global mind, that understand strategic virtual operations. Mastering the revolution can only be built by innovative digital operators.