Apple Card could kickstart the move of credit cards onto smartphones

Apple's new credit card has the potential to disrupt the credit card business in the same way Uber and Lyft disrupted the taxi industry, according to a digital marketing expert.

"It's amazing and everyone with an Apple iPhone is absolutely going to get it," says John-Kurt Pliniussen of the Smith School of Business at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont.

Apple announced the new card, a MasterCard backed by Goldman Sachs, at its event in Cupertino, Calif., on Monday. There is a physical card, but everything happens on the iPhone, including applying for the card, paying for purchases and seeing your bill.

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The plan is that it will be accepted anywhere Apple Pay is accepted — beginning this summer in the U.S. market initially.

And in contrast to traditional credit cards, it will have no late fees, annual fees or international usage fees. Customers will also be able to track purchases, check balances, and see when their bill is due right from an app that lays out exactly where and when they spent their money.

Apple has also promised a low interest rate, as well as two per cent cash back on purchases or three per cent on Apple purchases.

It's a savvy move to use a smartphone to go deeper into making purchases, Pliniussen told CBC News.

"You're going to get some education. You're going to reduce the costs of all your credit shopping. You're going to have artificial intelligence coach you and help you learn about financing and you're going to get recommendations as to how to budget," he said.

"You're also going to get cash rewards and receipts. It's just delightful. And it's … going to shock all the traditional credit card holders."

He says credit card companies will be scrambling now to match what Apple is offering as paying by smartphone will become the norm. Other credit card companies will be designing an Android app to do what the Apple card does and more, Alexander said.

The Apple Card will live in the wallet section of the iPhone, with all the security information integrated into the phone, though customers will also get a physical card made of titanium.

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"One of the most brilliant parts of this announcement is they're branding with Goldman Sachs and also MasterCard which is handling the payment processes on the back end," he said, pointing out that Goldman Sachs already is well-known globally.

ProudMoney.com, which assesses new credit products, says the credit card may not be as interesting as Apple is making it out to be. There are cards with better rewards programs, says ProudMoney's Adam Jusko, and the Apple Card really ties consumers to the Apple ecosystem, as the cash back rewards are lower when you use the physical card.

There is also no confirmation on the interest rate — just Apple's assertion that the rate will be lower, he said. He was skeptical it would be a game-changer. 

Apple is touting the card as an aid to financial literacy, saying customers can better understand their own spending and find ways to pay down their credit because of having the terms laid out so simply in an app.

Pliniussen sees this as a potential way to introduce teens to credit cards, in part because of Apple's great appeal to the youth market.

"If I have a young child who can't have their own credit card yet then what I would do is if I had an Apple phone I would sign up and show my children you know the process of using it and get them ready for it for the time when they go off to university and need their own credit cards or access to credit. I'd say it's a great learning tool."

He points out that Apple has a reputation of disrupting traditional industries, as it did with streaming music.

"Now they're getting into services, which is the new direction of course where they hoped to make more money than with hardware because their hardware sales are certainly starting to get flat."

China facilitates human rights development in the world: White paper

BEIJING — China has been facilitating the development of human rights in the world over the past 40 years of its reform and opening up, said a white paper released Wednesday by the State Council Information Office.

During the past decades, China has redoubled its efforts to promote human rights, sharing its experience, and creating more development opportunities globally, said the white paper titled “Progress in Human Rights over the 40 Years of Reform and Opening Up in China.”

China has been increasing foreign assistance to many Asian and African developing countries. From 1950 to 2016, China provided 400 billion yuan (57.9 billion U.S. dollars) of foreign aid and conducted over 5,000 foreign assistance projects, according to the document.

China has helped improve development capacity of other countries, expanded its assistance, promoted the Belt and Road Initiative, initiated integrated development model, and increased assistance training, said the document.

The white paper noted China has been providing humanitarian relief to other countries to help them respond to severe natural disasters.

China has also been committed to safeguarding world peace, said the white paper.

According to the document, by May 2018, China had dispatched 37,000 military and 2,700 police personnel to participate in 30 UN peacekeeping missions in Sudan, Lebanon, Cambodia, Liberia and other countries and regions.

India elections 2019: BJP tells me not to contest, says former party president Joshi

Highlights

  • Joshi will not contest the Lok Sabha election as he had been denied a party ticket
  • Joshi had vacated the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency in 2014 to enable Narendra Modi to contest from there
  • A former central Minister, Joshi was awarded Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award in 2017

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Kanpur: Former BJP President Murli Manohar Joshi has revealed that he will not contest the Lok Sabha election as he had been denied a party ticket.

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Joshi, 85, made the announcement in an open letter to the people of Kanpur, from where he was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2014.

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“Dear people of Kanpur, General Secretary of the BJP Ram Lal conveyed to me (on Monday) that I should not contest the ensuing parliamentary election from Kanpur (or anywhere),” he said.

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A prominent leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Joshi had vacated the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency in 2014 to enable Narendra Modi, the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate to contest from there, and shifted to Kanpur.

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Hailing from Uttarakhand, Joshi studied in Allahabad University where one of his teachers was Rajendra Singh, who later became the RSS chief.

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After teaching physics at Allahabad University, Joshi took to politics. He was the BJP President between 1991 and 1993.

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A former central Minister, Joshi was awarded Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award in 2017.

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The BJP earlier denied a ticket to veteran Lal Krishna Advani and replaced him with party President Amit Shah in the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat in Gujarat.

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Advani represented Gandhinagar six time since 1991. Late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was also elected from Gandhinagar once.

Collegium Recommends Transfer Of Judge Pradeep Nandrajog To Bombay High Court

New Delhi: 

The Supreme Court Collegium has recommended transfer of Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court, Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, to Bombay High Court.

The apex court collegium, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana, Arun Mishra and RF Nariman, transferred Justice Nandrjog.

“Office of the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court would be falling vacant shortly, consequent upon retirement of Justice NH Patil, Chief Justice of that High Court on April 6, 2019. Therefore, appointment to that office is required to be made. The Collegium resolves to recommend that Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, Chief Justice, Rajasthan High Court, be transferred, in the interest of better administration of justice, to Bombay High Court,” said a March 28 resolution which was uploaded on Friday.

A row had erupted earlier after names of the chief justices of the Rajasthan and Delhi high courts, Justice Nandrajog and Justice Rajendra Menon respectively, were considered by the collegium on December 12, 2018 for elevation, but the deliberation remained inconclusive and one of the members of the collegium, Justice M B Lokur, retired on December 30, 2018.

His place in the collegium was taken by Justice Arun Mishra.

The new collegium had, on January 10, ignored the prospect of elevation of justices Justice Nandrajog and Menon as apex court judges and recommended names of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, who were elevated.

Magnitude 7 or 8 quake highly likely along Japan Trench off Pacific coast within 30 years, panel reports

A major earthquake with a magnitude of between 7 and 8 is highly likely in most undersea areas along the Japan Trench off eastern Japan within the next 30 years, a government panel said Tuesday.

The government’s Earthquake Research Committee classified as category 3 most undersea areas along the trench, which sits off the Pacific coast from Aomori Prefecture to Ibaraki Prefecture. The classification means the probability of such a major quake is estimated to be 26 percent or higher over the period.

The committee sees an almost zero percent probability of a megaquake similar to the 9.0 earthquake that occurred along the trench on March 11, 2011, and triggered deadly tsunami that hit the Tohoku region. That assessment is unchanged from its previous evaluation, which was released in November 2011.

The committee disclosed the details in an updated version of its long-term quake evaluation of undersea areas along the Japan Trench, which marks a major tectonic subduction zone.

“The possibility of a quake with a magnitude of up to around 8 along the trench remains high,” said Naoshi Hirata, chairman of the committee.

“We want the public to keep in mind that strong quakes and tsunami will hit regions facing the trench again,” he added.

The assessment is based on research conducted since the March 2011 quake.

The earthquake probabilities were calculated based on the number of big quakes seen previously and the intervals between them.

In its most recent evaluation, the committee started classifying undersea areas along the trench into risk categories from 1 to 3. For regions in category 2, the likelihood of an earthquake over the next 30 years ranges from 3 percent to less than 26 percent, while for those in category 1, the probabilities are less than 3 percent.

The committee increased the seismic probabilities listed for two of the 12 possible combinations of magnitude and location along the trench considered prone to earthquakes.

One of the patterns for which the likelihood was raised is a scenario whereby a quake with a magnitude of around 7.9 occurs off Miyagi Prefecture. The committee raised the probability to around 20 percent from almost zero in the previous survey, taking into account the possibility that additional quakes would be triggered by a megaquake.

The probability of a smaller but still significant earthquake occurring off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture with a magnitude of 7 to 7.5 was raised to around 50 percent from some 10 percent.

The possibility of earthquakes with magnitudes measuring from 7 to 7.5 remained high in some undersea areas. Off Aomori Prefecture and northern Iwate Prefecture, the likelihood was estimated at 90 percent or higher. The figure was 90 percent off Miyagi Prefecture and 80 percent off Ibaraki Prefecture.

Nugent-Hopkins, Draisaitl hat tricks power Oilers past Kings

It took 34 years for the Edmonton Oilers to see two players record hat tricks in the same game again.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl each had three goals and Draisaitl added an assist as Edmonton powered its way to an 8-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday — the first time since 1985 that two Oilers had hat tricks in the same game, that one also against Los Angeles with Paul Coffey and JariKurri achieving the feat.

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"I'm happy for both of them," said Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who added a goal and three assists. "I'm not sure if I have seen two teammates get hat tricks in the same game, other than maybe in minor hockey. That was pretty cool."

ZackKassian also scored for the Oilers (34-34-8), who have won two of their last three to move within five points of a wild-card playoff position.

All of Nugent-Hopkins' goals came in the first period.

"I don't think I have done something like that since minor hockey," he said. "It is something new to me, but definitely a good way to start the game. It is a lot nicer when you get the win, too."

Alex Iafallo, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown and Carl Grundstrom replied for the Kings (28-40-8), who saw a three-game winning streak ended.

"There is not much I can say about that one," said Kings forward AnzeKopitar. "Coming out in the second and getting the goals was obviously positive, but we can't expect to win many games when you're down 5-1."

WATCH | Oilers double up Kings:

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins became the first Oiler with a first period hat-trick since Taylor Hall in 2013 with a dominant performance en route to an 8-4 Oilers win over the Kings. 0:27

Los Angeles started the scoring just over two minutes into the opening period as Iafallo stepped into a shot from the high slot that hit a stick and beat Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen to the glove side for his 15th goal of the season.

Nugent-Hopkins responded just over a minute later, deflecting a pass from Alex Chiasson past Kings starter Jonathan Quick.

The goals kept coming as Draisaitl bobbed and weaved his way through the defence before scoring.

The Oilers made it 3-1 midway through the first when Kassian picked the top corner for his 15th of the season.

Nugent-Hopkins scored his 27th of the season on a long, high shot, giving Edmonton a three-goal lead with six minutes to play.

Nugent-Hopkins completed his hat trick before the first period was over, scoring with 12 seconds remaining in the frame on the power play. McDavid picked up an assist for his career high 109th point of the season.

Jack Campbell replaced Quick to start the second period.

The Kings got one back eight minutes into the second when Doughty scored on a two-man advantage.

McDavid made a slick move in tight to score his 39th to make it 6-2 for Edmonton about 12 minutes into the second period.

The Oilers kept it up with another goal a couple of minutes later with McDavid setting up Draisaitl on the doorstep for his second of the game.

Brown got the Kings' second power play of the game with three minutes left in the second before Grundstrom struck on a four-on-four with 44 seconds left.

Draisaitl got his first-ever regular season hat trick goal with 1:31 to go in the third period, giving him 99 points on the season and 46 goals, although he is hesitant to state that he is desperate to hit 50 for the campaign.

"I try not to think about it," he said. "I don't want to put that pressure on myself, to be honest. I am happy with the year I have been having and I don't want to take that mark as a reason to downplay my season."

Both teams return to action on Thursday as the Kings head to Vancouver to face the Canucks and the Oilers play host to the Dallas Stars.

China’s supreme court signs MoU with PICC to ensure judgment enforcement

BEIJING — The Supreme People’s Court of China on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the People’s Insurance Company of China (PICC) to further ensure the enforcement of court judgments in the country.

Chief Justice Zhou Qiang attended the signing, saying that China has made significant progress over the past three years in ensuring judgment enforcement by covering the major property forms of those subject to enforcement, and limiting their rights once they lost credit.

He spoke highly of the insurance industry’s efforts in aiding those who applied for enforcement and were in trouble, such as the PICC providing applicants with insurance that granted due compensation if those subject to enforcement failed to compensate in time.

“Such aid gave the people warmth and care, and played a positive role in improving the judicial aid system with Chinese characteristics and solving the problems in judgment enforcement,” Zhou said.

He asked for further improvement of the cooperation mechanism between the people’s courts and the insurance industry to cut the risk of failure in enforcing the courts’ judgments, reduce the financial burden of those who apply for enforcement, and ensure those who win lawsuits can realize their rights and benefits, in order to enhance the people’s sense of fulfillment.

After disaster-filled 2018, lessons from 1995 Hanshin quake resonate with foreign nationals and Kobe officials

KOBE – The image of a resilient Japan rebounding almost immediately from natural disasters is one that has taken root across the world, but sometimes that image can obfuscate the trauma and the panic of actually living through a disaster.

Roxana Oshiro knows this firsthand. She recalled fleeing her Kobe home on Jan. 17, 1995, and joining the frightened throngs of people in the street as the Great Hanshin Earthquake upended the city and its surrounding area early that morning.

Originally from Peru, she had been living in the city for four years and spoke little Japanese at the time. As Oshiro recounted for attendees at last week’s inaugural Kansai Resilience Forum in Kobe, organized by the Japanese Government in collaboration with IAFOR, she had never experienced anything as terrifying as what happened that morning.

To make matters worse, the one word that Oshiro understood that she repeatedly heard during public announcements was “tsunami.”

“I was in a panic when I heard the word ‘tsunami’ and I took it to mean a tsunami is coming,” Oshiro told reporters at the forum. “Because we were close to the ocean, I thought, ‘I have to run, I have to evacuate,’ but I didn’t know where to go.”

What Oshiro also didn’t know at the time was that the public announcements were informing people that there was, in fact, no threat of a tsunami. Rather, it was the effects of the magnitude 7.3 earthquake alone that caused such devastation, leaving a total of 6,402 people dead, including 148 foreign nationals in Kobe.

Oshiro and Chiaki Kim, who also spoke during the forum, told reporters about their current roles as presenters with Radio FMYY, the world’s first disaster-focused radio station. Both women are part of a team of volunteers formed in the wake of the Kobe earthquake who broadcast information on disaster prevention and relief, as well as a range of other community news and issues in several languages, including Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese and English.

As Japan gears up for a series of marquee sporting events, including this year’s Rugby World Cup, which will take place in 12 cities nationwide including Kobe, followed by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the country’s disaster relief infrastructure will be tested in the event of a calamity — or calamities.

Japan is also set to take in up to 340,000 foreign workers over the next five years from April as it sets about plugging yawning labor gaps due to a declining and aging workforce.

In many ways last year proved to be a test case after the nation was hit by a series of deadly natural disasters, including severe flooding, powerful earthquakes and Typhoon Jebi, which shuttered Kansai International Airport for three days, stranding thousands of passengers and staff at the country’s third-busiest airport.

Thomas Mayrhofer, general manager of ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka, remarked at the forum that Kansai was “on CNN for eight consecutive weeks” as it dealt with an earthquake in the beginning of the summer and Jebi in early September. But Mayrhofer, who also oversees ANA hotels in Hokkaido, Kobe and the city of Okayama, said that despite the severe blow to the Osaka hotel industry, the city had reacted exceptionally well. The city’s resilience, he said, highlighted the nation’s capabilities.

“I think Japan is incredibly strong in preparing, preventing and responding (to disasters),” Mayrhofer said.

He also noted that offering shelter during a disaster takes precedence: “A lot of times hotels have been built stronger for longer term use than some local buildings and we have a responsibility to the local community and to our guests to provide shelter.”

One area Mayrhofer pointed to that required attention was getting emergency information to tourists and foreign workers in multiple languages, noting that the country’s emergency broadcast system transmits disaster alerts only in Japanese.

“I think it’s critical that we have to work with the authorities to try to get this into more than one language,” he said.

As an example, Mayrhofer highlighted last June’s 6.1 magnitude earthquake in Osaka.

“For foreign tourists it can be devastating … in some cases it’s their first earthquake they have ever experienced,” he said.

“The language component and how to communicate immediately during a crisis is something here in Japan where we still have work to be done,” Mayrhofer added.

For its part, Kobe has learned from the devastating 1995 quake, especially when it comes to relaying information on disaster prevention, mitigation and relief in multiple languages. Kaori Asada, assistant manager at Kobe’s Crisis Management Office, outlined how the city has taken an active approach to providing aid in times of disaster to its 1.5 million inhabitants, which includes more than 45,000 foreign-born residents, as well as foreign visitors.

Beyond pocket-sized disaster prevention cards issued in English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese and Portuguese, the city has also posted a list and map of refuge shelters in multiple languages online. Hyogo Emergency Net, meanwhile, transmits emergency information via email and on its website in 11 languages while Kokokuru, a tsunami information website, details how to prepare for an earthquake and tsunami, and what to do in the event of a disaster.

Asada also explained how the Crisis Management Office coordinates with community groups in the city who pass on verified information in languages other than Japanese. Since 2014, Kobe also supports simultaneous interpretation on 119 emergency calls.

As the resilience forum made clear, natural disasters are a fact of life in Japan, but preparing for and dealing with them are a process that is continually evolving, especially as Japan changes.

Cyclone Idai deaths could exceed 1,000 as need for aid grows

BEIRA, Mozambique: Even as flood waters began to recede in parts of Mozambique on Friday, fears rose that the death toll could soar as bodies are revealed.

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The number of deaths could be beyond the 1,000 predicted by the country’s president earlier this week, said Elhadj As Sy, the secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

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In addition to worries about the number of dead, As Sy told The Associated Press that the humanitarian needs are great.

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“They are nowhere near the scale and magnitude of the problem,” As Sy said. “And I fear we will be seeing more in the weeks and months ahead, and we should brace ourselves.”

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Thousands of people were making a grim voyage toward the city of Beira, which although 90 per cent destroyed has become a center for frantic rescue efforts throughout the region.

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Some walked along roads carved away by the raging waters a week ago. Others, hundreds of them, were ferried in an extraordinary makeshift effort by local fishermen who plucked stranded people from small islands.

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Helicopters set off into the rain for another day of efforts to find people clinging to rooftops and trees.

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For those who reach Beira with their few remaining possessions, life is grim. Waterborne diseases are a growing concern as water and sanitation systems were largely destroyed.

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“The situation is simply horrendous, there is no other way to describe it,” As Sy said after touring transit camps for the growing number of displaced. “Three thousand people who are living in a school that has 15 classrooms and six, only six, toilets. You can imagine how much we are sitting on a water and sanitation ticking bomb.”

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What moved him the most was the number of children without their parents, separated in the chaos or newly orphaned.

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“Yesterday (we) did a reconnaissance and we found another (inland) lake. So we are still very early in the phase of identifying what the scope of this is, for who is affected and how many are lost,” Emma Batey, coordinator for the consortium of Oxfam, CARE and Save the Children, told the AP.

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Luckily, the area is a national park and less densely populated, she said. Still, “there were devastatingly small amounts of people.”

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She estimated that another 100 people would be airlifted out on Friday: “We’re only picking up those in absolute dire need.”

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No one is still clinging to roofs and trees, she said.

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Pedro Matos, emergency coordinator for the World Food Program, said that what rescuers are seeing now is “sometimes it’s just a hut completely surrounded by water.”

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“If islands are big enough, we can even see smoke coming out, meaning that they’re cooking,” he said, adding that it remains “super difficult” to estimate a death toll or even the number of missing.

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For residents of Beira, life staggered on. People salvaged the metal strips of roofs that had been peeled away like the skin of a fruit. Downed trees littered the streets. And yet there were flashes of life as it used to be. White wedding dresses stood pristine behind a shop window that hadn’t shattered.

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Zimbabwe was also affected by the cyclone and as roads began to clear and some basic communications were set up, a fuller picture of the extent of the damage there is beginning to emerge.

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The victims are diverse: a mother buried in the same grave with her child, headmasters missing together with dozens of school students, illegal gold and diamond miners swept away by raging rivers and police officers washed away with their prisoners.

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The Ministry of Information said 30 pupils, two headmasters and a teacher are missing.

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Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Thursday that officers and prisoners were washed way.

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In Mutare, fear gripped residents even though they are more than 140 kilometres (85 miles) from Chimanimani, the worst-hit part of Zimbabwe.

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Maina Chisiriirwa, a city resident, said she buried her son-in-law, who had left the city to go to Chiadzwa diamond fields to mine illegally.

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“There are no jobs and all he wanted was to feed his family. He was with his colleagues. They thought it would be easier to mine since the rains would keep the guards and the police away from patrolling,” Chisiriirwa said. His colleagues survived but her son-in-law was swept away, she said.

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A man who travelled several kilometres to a reception center for survivors in Chimanimani said several of his colleagues were swept away as they tried to cross a river while fleeing from a mountain known for rich gold deposits and frequented by hordes of illegal miners.

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— AP

'We are caribou people': Gwich'in leaders in Washington to push for ANWR protection

Indigenous leaders from Canada and Alaska told U.S. legislators on Tuesday that oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) would devastate caribou, and amount to "cultural genocide."

The Gwich'in representatives were testifying before a U.S. congressional subcommittee, which is considering a bill that would nix any development in the Alaska refuge. 

"I am here today to testify that this development on [Alaska's] coastal plain amounts to the cultural genocide of the entire Gwich'in nation," said Dana Tizya-Tramm, chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in Old Crow, Yukon, in his testimony.

"If you drill in this sacred place, it will destroy the caribou, and therefore destroy the Gwich'in."

ANWR's oil and gas potential has been talked about for decades, but in 2017 the Trump administration passed a sweeping tax bill that included a provision to open the coastal plain to development. The proposed Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act would effectively repeal that part.

Bernadette Demientieff of the Gwich'in Steeering Committee also testified on Tuesday. Her organization represents Indigenous communities in Alaska, Yukon and the N.W.T. who have long argued that protecting ANWR is vital to the survival of the Porcupine caribou herd. The herd's calving grounds lie within the refuge.

  • U.S. not meeting terms of international caribou agreement, say Indigenous gov'ts of Arctic refuge plan

"We are caribou people," Demientieff said, describing how Gwich'in have relied on the herd throughout their history.

"The ancestral homeland of the Gwich'in and the migratory route of the Porcupine caribou herd are identical … protecting the coastal plain is protecting our identity and human rights." 

Tizya-Tramm said it's especially important to preserve the caribou calving grounds now, as the environment around them evolves. 

"Protected lands will give animals the chance to survive the changing climate in our lands," he said.

"The herd is the sustenance of our very being — mind, body and spirit."

'Sustain this national treasure'

The area has been considered off-limits for development for nearly 60 years. In 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower set aside 3.6 million hectares of the Arctic coastal plain "for the purpose of preserving unique wildlife, wilderness and recreational values."

When ANWR was established in 1980, the legislation added that one of its purposes was to "conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity including the Porcupine caribou herd." 

The bill now before the subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources calls on Congress to "sustain this national treasure," and also "honor and respect the human rights of the Gwich'in."

  • Vuntut Gwitchin fear for the future in the face of oil and gas development

  • U.S. Federal agency pegs $4M for ANWR infrastructure

Speaking at Tuesday's hearing, subcommittee chair Alan Lowenthal, a Democratic congressman from California who took over as chair after the mid-term elections, described the inclusion of ANWR in the 2017 tax bill as rushed and unnecessary.

"It was barely even thought about," he said. "There is absolutely no need to open the ANWR to oil and gas drilling.

"I think we should all be able to agree that decisions about the future of the Arctic refuge should be made thoughtfully, carefully, and with an understanding that this is a one-way street — oil and gas development, particularly on the tundra in the Arctic, is irreversible."

The hearing was heated at times, with Republican Congressman Don Young of Alaska — a long-time supporter of development in ANWR — appearing at one point to challenge another congressman to a fist fight. 

"If you want to argue, I'll argue with you later… Alright? We'll take care of that later," he said, shaking a clenched fist.

Young said that the committee should hear from more Inupiat representatives who live on Alaska's north slope and support development, not "foreigners."

"I want to believe the people — not the Gwich'in, because they're not the people. They're 400 miles away. I'm talking about the Inuits that live there. That's their land. It's always been their land.

"Save the culture of the people, not those that are foreigners or are living away from the area."

Written by Paul Tukker