Volkswagen has defended its decision to continue operating a car plant in Xinjiang, a Chinese region mired in allegations of large-scale human rights abuses by the state.Evidence that hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other minorities are being detained in camps, or used as forced labour in factories, has led some multinational companies to cut ties with the region, despite China’s insistence that the claims are untrue.- Advertisement – The BBC’s John Sudworth spoke to VW’s CEO Stephan Wollenstein, who said they do “not have forced labour” at their factory in Uruqmi.Read more: – Advertisement – China Muslims: Volkswagen says ‘no forced labour’ at Xinjiang plant – Advertisement –
Jan 12, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The federal government today announced the release of $100 million appropriated by Congress recently to help states prepare for a potential influenza pandemic.The money is the first installment of $350 million included in the $3.8 billion emergency appropriation for pandemic preparedness that Congress passed in late December, said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt.Leavitt has been stressing the message that state and local governments must take the lead in dealing with a pandemic at ground level, and he did so again in announcing the funding. “Pandemics happen globally but must be managed at the state and local level, and these funds will help communities meet that responsibility,” he said in a news release.The $100 million will be divided among the 50 states, the District of Columbia, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles County, and the seven US territories. Each state will get $500,000 plus an additional amount based on population.The state shares range from $622,102 for Wyoming to about $6.7 million for California, according to the HHS release.”The remaining $250 million from the appropriation will be awarded later this year in accord with guidance that will require progress and performance,” HHS said.The agency said states and cities will use the money to step up their planning and to conduct drills to test the plans. “The focus is on practical, community-based procedures that could prevent or delay the spread of pandemic influenza, and help to reduce the burden of illness communities would contend with during an outbreak,” the statement said.Leavitt made the announcement today at pandemic planning “summit” meetings in Vermont and West Virginia. The meetings are part of a series of forums that are expected to be held in every state over the next few months.The recent appropriation came in response to President Bush’s request on Nov 1 for $7.1 billion for pandemic preparedness. That included $100 million for state and local preparedness, an amount that some public health organizations criticized as too small.The pandemic planning money is in addition to federal funds to help state and local governments prepare for bioterrorism and other public health emergencies. For fiscal year 2006, Congress recently appropriated about $824 million for that purpose, according to the “CSTE Washington Report” of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists.See also:Jan 12 HHS news releaseDec 28, 2005, CIDRAP News story “Pandemic funding, liability shield clear Congress”
Image: National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationWith a significant winter weather system expected to make its way through the area, citizens are encouraged to prepare and for hazardous roads and possible school and business closings.The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning which is in effect from Friday at 1 a.m. until Saturday at 1 a.m.Rain will transition to a wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain through midnight or a little after. Precipitation will change over to snow by daybreak. Snow may be heavy at time throughout Friday.Hazardous travel conditions may force schools and organizations to close Friday.Click here to view current delays and cancellations.Local highway departments will be out in full force to combat the potential snow and ice covered roads.Click here to view if your county is under a travel advisory.A travel “advisory” is notification that travel may be restricted in some areas. Under a “watch” level, only essential travel is recommended. A travel advisory at a “warning” level means travel may be restricted to emergency personnel only.Winter Driving SafetyThose considering going out onto the roads are advised to check the weather forecast and travel conditions prior to leaving, and allow for extra travel time. If driving during the storm is necessary, make sure you have a fully charged and functioning cell phone. A vehicle preparedness kit is also strongly encouraged. Items in a vehicle preparedness kit include:At least two blankets or a sleeping bag;Flashlight and extra batteries;Booster (jumper) cables;Emergency flares;Extra clothing, including boots, hats and gloves;ShovelBottled water and non-perishable foods like granola bars, raisins, nuts, peanut butter or cheese crackers;First-aid kit and necessary medications;Sand or non-clumping kitty litter for tire traction;Cell phone and charger for vehicle use; and Ice scraper and snow brush.When traveling, always move over or pull to the side of the road for first responders.If You Become StrandedUnless there is a safe structure nearby, do not leave the car, since it is the best protection;Run the engine for 10 minutes every hour to stay warm. An idling car only uses about one gallon of gas per hour;Tie a brightly colored cloth to the car for rescuers to see;Light a flare or turn on a flashlight to let others know you are stranded;Make sure the exhaust pipe is free of any blockage to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning; andKeep hydrated by drinking water from your preparedness kit. Don’t eat snow, as it will lower body temperature.