DAVOS: One of the lasting legacies of the COVID-19 pandemic will be a more flexible approach to working because employees increasingly desire “more time for their life,” according to participants in a panel discussion on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“I think that’s been a really good evolution; I would say (it was) unusual at first but I think we can see that this is what our employees are looking for: More control, more choice,” Jonas Prising, the CEO of ManpowerGroup, said during the discussion, titled The Four-Day Week: Necessity or Luxury?
ManpowerGroup is described as a world leader in innovative workforce solutions that connect human potential to the power of business.
Prising argued that all workers, regardless of profession, should be given the opportunity to work flexibly to prevent a split within the workforce.
“This needs to be equitably distributed across many categories of workers; not only knowledge workers, not only those that can work from home, but people who are in production lines, who are driving trucks, who are in warehouses, and who are manufacturing,” he said.
“Otherwise, we’ll have a bifurcation of the workforce, and an inequitable distribution of this very valuable benefit that is truly something that all workers are looking for.”
Ohood Al-Roumi, the UAE’s minister of state for government development and future, agreed that people are demanding more flexible working options as a result of their experiences during the pandemic.
“They worked from home and the line between their personal and professional life blurred,” she said.
“And then when they started going back to their organizations … there was more demand for flexibility, well-being, there was a discussion about mental health.”
The UAE moved to a four-and-a-half day working week this year, with employees of federal organizations now working normal business hours from Monday to Thursday and until noon on Friday.
Al-Roumi said that there should a coordinated effort by public and private sectors to introduce more flexible working practices.
“In the UAE, the shorter workweek was implemented for government (workers), we did not impose it on the private sector,” she added.
“What happened, interestingly, was that 50 percent of the private companies followed the decision. And even some of the global companies who have offices in the UAE took that practice and applied it in their offices across the world.”
American Foreign policy has a “blind spot” when it comes to getting accurate information on challenges facing Israelis and Palestinians or achieving peace, Illinois Congressman Sean Casten (D-6th) told Arab News Wednesday.
Elected in 2018 after defeating conservative Peter Roskam, Casten said he saw how the “status quo” provokes extremists on both sides, Hamas and Israeli settlers, during two visits to Israel and later the West Bank.
Casten said he supports a two-state solution but believes it will be difficult to achieve under current circumstances. He stressed that he supports Israel’s right to security in the face of threats from Hamas, as well as the rights of Palestinian civilians, citing the experiences he saw Palestinian farmers face from armed settlers while in Bethlehem last February.
“We had gone in the last time I was there, which was last February. We had gone in and met with several Palestinians. They (Israeli settlers) have got a farm up on the hill above their farm, and it is essentially an outpost with armed settlers who are regularly coming down and shooting their (Palestinian) livestock,” Casten recalled from the trip.
“And we’re sitting there saying we are members of Congress. Why don’t we just walk up? And they were saying no, no… ‘You are going to get shot if you do that, do not walk up there,’ which is weird because normally as a member of Congress, we can go anywhere. We then come back, and we met with Tom Knives, the US ambassador to Israel, who is a lovely guy, and we start telling him about this and it was clear he was not aware of those realities on the ground because as the ambassador to Israel, he cannot travel into that region except in a supervised fashion. And so, we need to have information. We have this blind spot in US foreign policy right now.”
Casten said the situation he saw there reinforced his belief that re-opening the US Consulate in Jerusalem for Palestinian affairs, which is one of the goals of President Joseph Biden, is essential.
“We have Palestinian communities who need representation. They don’t have an embassy anymore. Should we push to create that embassy? That seems like a good thing Congress should do. We’re not taking sides. We are just saying we need to make sure that people [are safe]. We talked to a guy who runs the Hope Flowers School that teaches non-violence in Bethlehem. He doesn’t have anyone to reach out to right now. So, we raise that issue and then we hear, well, ‘Be careful pushing that because as you have seen the Knesset is very divided right now and if you push too hard that might create the rise, the return of the Israeli political right,’” Casten said.
“I am completely in [support] of that (opening the US Consulate). But the challenge is how do we do that in a way that is responsive to the circumstances on the ground there?”
Casten complained that the US understanding of the Israeli-Palestine conflict is dominated by activists on both sides in the US and that a greater effort needs to be made to hear the views of everyone involved to better understand the reality. He said that the US must “understand how it affects the politics on the ground there” in order to address those challenges.
Appearing on “The Ray Hanania Show,” broadcast on the US Arab Radio Network and sponsored by Arab News, Casten said his experiences showed how one cannot only listen to activists who advocate for their causes but must also hear from others to better understand the hurdles that prevent peace.
“There is so much pressure in our US system to be responsive to US citizens who are advocates for the region. And I think it is so dangerous to only listen to those groups if you haven’t spoken to groups on the ground…I have met with everyone from Prime Minister (Mohammed) Shtayyeh to (President) Mahmoud Abbas to (Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu and (Alternate Prime Minister) Yair Lapid this last time,” Casten said.
“Everybody will tell Americans who are there that the system is very brittle. If you push us too hard, you will see the rise of the right on the Israeli [side], if you push us too hard you will see the rise of Hamas on the Palestinian side. And there is this tremendous pressure that says, ‘Please don’t violate the status quo.’ And yet we all know that the status quo is untenable. I think the surest way to compromise the security of everyone in the region is to continue the status quo where you have a group of people with no property rights and increasingly little hope.”
Casten observed how the recent signing of peace accords between Israel and other Arab states has changed the dynamics of what many Israelis believe is the path to peace.
“The feeling on the ground in Israel, I think there used to be a sense in Israel that there is no path to regional peace without a resolution to the Palestinian issue,” Casten said.
“And with the passage of the Abraham Accords, with the increasing concerns of a nuclear Iran, the feeling I get on the street when I talk to Israelis over there is that they have almost inverted that until we have regional peace, we don’t need to worry about the Palestinian issue. I don’t know how to solve that. I feel better about our opportunity to solve that when we have more centrist moderate governments. Of course, the Israeli government has been very brittle now for four or five years.”
Casten said he supports the two-state solution but is unsure how it can be achieved in today’s political dynamics.
“I absolutely support it, and I wish I could tell you that I saw a path to getting it done. I don’t know how you have a democratic Jewish Israel that doesn’t have two states with coherent borders,” Casten said.
“I will also share with you, I have yet to meet an Israeli leader who is committed to the idea that they don’t have complete control of security, which is one and one-half states. And I have yet to meet a leader in the Palestinian authority who doesn’t have a business card that doesn’t have a map that runs from the Jordan to the sea.”
Casten also said he was optimistic in cases like the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh that one could criticize Israel without being anti-Israeli. Palestinian witnesses have said they believed the Palestinian-American citizen was killed on May 11 by an Israeli sniper’s bullet, but the Israelis have resisted that conclusion.
“There are a lot of pressures in our domestic politics. But I think we should be able to manage,” Casten said when asked if responsibility for Abu Akleh’s killing will be resolved.
“I have always been partial to that beautiful line of Frederick Douglass when he said that the best friend of the nation is who acknowledges her faults rather than cloak himself in the specious garb of patriotism. He was, of course, talking about America. But I think in the same way, for the United States to be a good friend of Israel, as we are, we also have to be willing to say as your friend, you are not perfect.”
Casten is a scientist, clean energy entrepreneur and CEO who has dedicated his life to fighting climate change. He serves on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and is vice chair of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets.
Casten faces fellow Democrat Congresswoman Marie Newman in the June 28 election primary. Newman did not respond to several requests to appear on the radio show.
The Ray Hanania Show is broadcast live every Wednesday at 5 p.m. Eastern EST on WNZK AM 690 radio in Greater Detroit, including parts of Ohio, and WDMV AM 700 radio in Washington D.C., including parts of Virginia and Maryland. The show is rebroadcast on Thursdays at 7 a.m. in Detroit on WNZK AM 690 and in Chicago at 12 p.m. on WNWI AM 1080.
You can listen to the radio show podcast here
DUBAI: Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech have completed the filing with the US drugs regulator seeking authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine in children under 5 years of age.
The filing with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), completed on Wednesday, included data showing three lower-dose shots of the vaccine generated a strong immune response in children as young as 6 months of age.
No COVID-19 shot is yet approved for children in that age group in most parts of the world. It remains unclear how many parents will get their young ones vaccinated as demand has been low in kids aged 5 to 11.
Pfizer and BioNTech on May 23 said their trial showed a 3 microgram version of the vaccine generated a similar immune response in under 5-year-olds as two doses of 30 micrograms each in 16 to 25-year-olds in an earlier trial.
Rival Moderna in March released trial data that showed a two-dose formulation of its vaccine was safe and generated a similar immune response in young children as in adults.
The FDA’s independent advisers will discuss the two applications in a meeting set for June 15.
LONDON: Four days of celebrations honoring Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne got underway Thursday with a display of British military traditions stretching from the days of horse and cannon to the jet age.
Formal celebrations for the Platinum Jubilee began with Trooping the Color, an annual military review that has marked the sovereign’s official birthday since 1760. The queen is expected to join the working members of her family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the end of the event, when 70 aircraft are set to roar overhead.
The jubilee is being commemorated with a four-day holiday weekend. The celebration of Elizabeth’s reign includes a service of thanksgiving Friday at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, a concert at Buckingham Palace on Saturday and a pageant staged by thousands of performers drawn from schools and community groups around the country on Sunday afternoon.
#LIVE: from Buckingham Palace for Trooping the Colour and as Royal Family watches flypast from balcony#JubileeCelebration #QueensJubilee #QueensPlatinumJubilee https://t.co/aP4FbPEkUh
Throughout the weekend, neighborhood organizations and individuals are expected to hold thousands of street parties around the country, repeating a tradition that began with the queen’s coronation in 1953.
The 96-year-old queen is Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the first to reach the milestone of seven decades on the throne. The jubilee is giving many people — even those often indifferent to the monarchy — a chance to reflect on the state of the nation and the huge changes that have taken place during her reign.
Former Prime Minister John Major — one of the 14 prime ministers of the queen’s reign — said the monarch’s stoic presence had helped steer the country over the decades,
“The queen has represented our better selves for over 70 years,” he told the BBC.
In a written jubilee message, the queen thanked people in Britain and across the Commonwealth involved in organizing the celebrations. For many, the occasion is the first opportunity for a big bash since the start of the coronavirus pandemic more than two years ago.
“I know that many happy memories will be created at these festive occasions,” Elizabeth said.
“I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me, and hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved during the last 70 years, as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm,” she said.
Congratulations arrived from world leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron called Elizabeth “the golden thread that binds our two countries” and one of “very few constants” on the international stage.
“You are our friend, such a close ally, our example of service to others,” Macron told the queen in an English-language video message.
The name of the long weekend’s first event, Trooping the Color, refers to a regimental flag, or “color,” that is trooped through the ranks. Britain’s annual tradition for the queen’s birthday is a ceremonial reenactment of the way battle flags were once shown to soldiers to make sure they would recognize a crucial rallying point if they became disoriented in combat.
The troops taking part come from the army’s Household Division, composed of the seven regiments that perform ceremonial duties for the queen. Their members are fully trained soldiers and often deployed overseas when not on ceremonial duty.
Each year a different unit has the honor of trooping its color. The 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards will have the spotlight during the Platinum Jubilee.
Thousands of people, some of whom camped overnight, lined the parade route — many of them sporting Union Jack flags, party hats or plastic tiaras.
Carly Martin, who caught a late-night bus from south London with her daughter, said she had come “to make memories.”
“You’re never going to see this again in your lifetime,” she said. “At least not in mine, maybe not in my daughter’s. … Seventy years — it is all I have ever known.”
Several protesters were arrested after getting past barriers and onto the parade route. The group Animal Rebellion claimed responsibility, saying the protesters were “demanding that royal land is reclaimed.”
Cheers and the clop of hooves rang out as horse-drawn carriages carried members of the royal family, including Prince William’s wife, Kate, and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade, a ceremonial parade ground about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) away.
The queen is expected to appear twice on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, but Prince Charles is playing play a key role during the event. Mounted on horseback, he will take the salute from ranks of scarlet-clad Guards on his mother’s behalf, along with his sister, Princess Anne, and his son Prince William.
Elizabeth has had trouble getting around of late, and her courtiers have been careful to keep make things as simple for her as possible.
Senior royals including Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla, traveled in carriages to watch the ceremony from a building overlooking the parade ground.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will join other royals to watch the spectacle. Harry and Meghan have traveled from their home in California to take part in the celebrations.
LONDON: Britain says it will send sophisticated medium-range rocket systems to Ukraine, in a move coordinated with the United States.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace says the UK will send an unspecified number of M270 launchers, which can send precision-guided rockets up to 80 kilometers (50 miles).
Britain says the decision has been coordinated closely with a US decision to send Ukraine High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems. The two missile systems are similar, though the American one has wheels while the British one — also US-built — runs on tracks.
Britain says Ukrainian troops will be trained in the UK to use the equipment.
Ukraine has implored its Western allies to send longer-range missiles to help it counter Russian artillery assaults in the eastern Donbas region, the focus of Moscow’s offensive.
The US said Ukraine has promised not to launch the weapons into Russia. But Russia accused Washington of “pouring fuel on the fire” of the conflict.