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Facing a wave of opposition Amazon reconsiders New York headquarters site two

In a significant boost for Amazon opponents, the Senate this week nominated Gianaris to the Public Authorities Control Board, where he could effectively veto the project. Cuomo has not said whether he will accept Gianaris’s nomination, but the Senate’s action signalled that the governor and legislature will be at odds over the deal.Gianaris and other critics portray the New York struggle as a national test for populist forces confronting big companies’ influence, and for the contest within the Democratic Party between its grass-roots and business-friendly wings.“We are dealing with an era of unprecedented corporate power in this country,” Gianaris said. “This Amazon deal represents a tipping point that is going to set the stage for what this country is going to be going forward.”Amazon surprised the nation in November by announcing that it would split its much-publicized second headquarters between Arlington, Virginia, and Long Island City, with employees at each site earning an average of more than US$150,000 a year. Initially, the company said it planned a single location with all 50,000 jobs.The divergent reactions in New York and Virginia arise from political and economic differences between the two, according to officials and analysts in both locations.New York is a pro-labour city, whereas Virginia is a right-to-work state where employees cannot be obliged to join a union as a condition of employment.Amazon has opposed attempts to unionize its workforce and said it would do the same in New York. “What Amazon is looking to do is come in and change the values of our city,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.Protestors rally against Amazon at New York City Hall. New York also is straining from the effects of rapid economic growth, whereas Arlington is eager to attract investment to Crystal City to offset the loss of thousands of federal government jobs there in a Pentagon reorganization that began in 2005.The community around Long Island City is home to legions of grass-roots organizations that were already unhappy about gentrification and warn that Amazon’s arrival would further raise housing prices. Some also fault Amazon for selling facial-recognition technology to law enforcement agencies and partnering with companies that work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.The activists have occupied an Amazon store in Manhattan, marched in Albany and demonstrated at the office of Assemblywoman Catherine T. Nolan (D-Queens), who supports the deal.“The geography in New York has brought together a lot of threads of activism who were really ready to react to this kind of announcement and were particularly outraged,” said Deborah Axt, co-executive director of Make the Road, an organization of low-income immigrants and communities of colour.Northern Virginia, Axt said, does “not have quite the pool of amazing champions ready to jump into the fray as we’re fortunate to have here in New York.”———Amazon supporters are aghast that local politicians— including Gianaris and Van Bramer — have turned against the company.“Everyone in local government has said for years that we need to emphasize outer borough commercial development and that we want tech jobs in Long Island City,” said Stephanie Báez, a spokeswoman for the New York City Economic Development Corp. “But now we are seeing a few of the same local politicians abruptly flip-flopping in reaction to a small and well-organized group of people.”In Virginia, almost all state and local leaders support the arrival of Amazon, despite opposition by several progressive groups — Tenants and Workers United, Our Revolution Arlington and some members of Indivisible Arlington — that have staged small protests at community meetings.The Arlington County Board is putting final touches on a proposed US$23 million local incentives package, which it is expected to approve in March or later.“Most people think this is a great opportunity,” Board Chair Christian Dorsey, D, said.The board is pressuring Amazon to sign a project labour agreement that ensures a living wage, proper job classifications and safety standards for all those employed by construction contractors and subcontractors.“They have emphatically not promised anything,” board member Erik Gutshall, D, said. “But I didn’t get the sense that any of those things was a non-starter.”Residents of the neighbourhoods around the Arlington site worry about rent increases, spiking property taxes and paralyzing traffic. But neither they nor the progressive groups lobbying against the company appears to have enough political clout to block the deal.In New York, critics are hoping that Amazon will tire of devoting time and money to fighting a battle it didn’t expect.“The way these fights work, you push on each and every little thing,” Van Bramer said.That approach was sure to worry Amazon, whose vice president for policy, Brian Huseman, told the recent City Council hearing, “We want to invest in a community that wants us.” Amazon.com is reconsidering its plan to bring 25,000 jobs to a new campus in New York City following a wave of opposition from local politicians, according to two people familiar with the company’s thinking.The company has not leased or purchased office space for the project, making it easy to withdraw its commitment. Unlike in Virginia — where elected leaders quickly passed an incentive package for a separate headquarters facility — final approval from New York state is not expected until 2020.Tennessee officials have also embraced Amazon’s plans to bring 5,000 jobs to Nashville, which this week approved US$15.2 million in road, sewer and other improvements related to that project. Amazon’s HQ2 locations show just how far the suburbs have come Amazon officially announces it’s splitting HQ2, with one in New York and the other in Virginia ‘They’ve duped all of us’: Amazon’s multiple HQ2s move it closer to its destiny as the everything company Amazon executives have had internal discussions recently to reassess the situation in New York and explore alternatives, said the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly about the company’s perspective.“The question is whether it’s worth it if the politicians in New York don’t want the project, especially with how people in Virginia and Nashville have been so welcoming,” said one person familiar with the company’s plans.Hailed as an economic triumph when it was announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, both Democrats, the project in the Long Island City neighbourhood of Queens now faces withering criticism from some politicians and advocacy groups appalled at the prospect of giving giant subsidies to the world’s most valuable company, led by its richest man. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post.)In the past two weeks, the state Senate nominated an outspoken Amazon critic to a board where he could potentially veto the deal. City Council members for the second time aggressively challenged company executives at a hearing where activists booed and unfurled anti-Amazon banners.Key officials, including freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., whose district borders the proposed Amazon site, have rallied against the project. And opponents went door-to-door to warn people in Queens of looming rent hikes and displacement, much as Seattle experienced during the company’s explosive growth there.Key officials, including freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose district borders the proposed Amazon site, have rallied against the project. Drew Angerer/Getty Images Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images No specific plans to abandon New York have been made. And it is possible that Amazon would try to use a threat to withdraw to put pressure on New York officials. But with a meeting of the state’s Public Authorities Control Board and a third City Council hearing expected later this month, Amazon executives may be reaching an inflection point, the people said.“I think now is the time for Amazon to make a decision because it has to start hiring,” said one person. “At some point, the project starts to fall behind.”The resistance in New York contrasts with the warm welcome Amazon has received in Virginia, where Gov. Ralph Northam, D, signed a law on Tuesday authorizing up to US$750 million in state subsidies for the Arlington headquarters.Northam and Virginia’s other top two state officials, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring, all Democrats, have been engulfed in recent days by scandals involving years-old behaviour. But the two people familiar with Amazon’s plans said company leadership is not concerned those controversies will hamper their project.It’s unclear what Amazon might consider as a Plan B if the New York project falls through. It could forgo the incentive package and hire employees on a smaller scale, as competitors including Google are already doing. Or Amazon could search for another jurisdiction to get some or all of the jobs originally slated for New York.“We always welcome more great jobs to the commonwealth,” said Stephen Moret, chief executive of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the state’s top Amazon negotiator.Amazon has hired a lobbying firm and a public relations firm in New York and recently advertised for a “senior community affairs manager” to “focus on developing a positive partnership with local stakeholders, community groups and nonprofits.”Asked to comment on the possibility that the New York deal might founder, Amazon spokeswoman Jodi Seth said: “We’re focused on engaging with our new neighbours — small business owners, educators, and community leaders. Whether it’s building a pipeline of local jobs through workforce training or funding computer science classes for thousands of New York City students, we are working hard to demonstrate what kind of neighbour we will be.”Protestors attend a New York City Council Finance Committee hearing titled ‘Amazon HQ2 Stage 2: Does the Amazon Deal Deliver for New York City Residents?’ at New York City Hall, January 30, 2019, in New York City. New York state and city officials have played down the chances that the deal will fall through. They pointed to opinion polls showing strong public support for the project and said Cuomo and de Blasio will fight hard for it.“The Amazon transaction was probably the greatest economic transaction in 50 years in this state,” Cuomo said in a recent radio interview. “We don’t get a business to come with 25,000 jobs anymore. I spend hours and days trying to get 100 jobs, 200 jobs.”But the resistance is well organized and energetic, based in unions and community groups. In addition to Ocasio-Cortez, opponents include City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Deputy Leader of the City Council James Van Bramer and state Sen. Michael Gianaris, who is deputy majority leader in the Senate.Some officials who previously supported luring Amazon to the city have changed their position, partly because they were unhappy that the deal was structured to bypass City Council approval. Amazon is eligible for up to US$1.3 billion in subsidies from two city programs, in addition to the state package and other incentives.The Amazon transaction was probably the greatest economic transaction in 50 years in this stateNew York governor Andrew Cuomo Drew Angerer/Getty Images read more

Diwali Messages 2018

A MESSAGE FROM THE ERC FOR DEEPAVALI 2018On this auspicious occasion of the festival of Deepavali, the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) would like to extend greetings and best wishes to all Guyanese especially our Hindu brothers and sisters.Deepavali signifies, among other things, that light will eventually triumph over darkness which is a profound source of inspiration so that all mankind can remain hopeful. It also emboldens humanity with hope giving surety that even in the face of insurmountable challenges, strength will be imbued for them to be overcome.These, and the other important lessons of Deepavali, provide guidance for us all as we continue to work assiduously towards the national goal of strengthening the bonds of friendship among our Guyanese brothers and sisters. It is through this that national harmony can be achieved so that we can confront challenges together and to remove the dark veil of division.This therefore becomes essential for the furtherance of peace and goodwill and let’s be comforted knowing that our combined efforts can realize that seemingly elusive light which can allow national harmony to shine through and for which we all yearn.Deepavali, like our other national festivals, is a much anticipated event. It has not only transcended religious boundaries, but has become a pillar of our cultural landscape. The traditional motorcades and its inherent beauty along with that of the thousands of flickering Diyas, are important conduits through splendor which bring our people from across the country together.The ERC therefore urges that we endeavor so that particular influence can be built upon for the promotion of harmony, unity and good relations among us all in this multifaceted society.As we gravitate towards that light of enlightenment, let us be reminded that Deepavali, through its significance, is replete with messages for togetherness. These, if heeded and inculcated, bode well for the advancement of our nation, its people and humanity at large.ShubhDeepavali to all!Ethnic Relations CommissionPPP/C DEEPAVALI MESSAGE 2018As our nation celebrates the festival of Deepavali, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) takes this opportunity to extend greetings to all Guyanese, especially the Hindu community.This festival which has gone beyond religious borders is one of the most anticipated events here in our country and has become a major component of the Guyanese cultural mosaic.The significance of Deepavali, known as the “Festival of Lights”, is pertinent for the upliftment of all mankind through its universal message of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil.The light of the Diyas which will shine throughout our country, symbolises a sense of renewal as light is allowed to dominate and darkness and hatred are banished.Our Party urges that this message be heeded so that darkness from the prevailing despondency, ignorance and hatred can be repelled in the interest of all humanity knowing that knowledge will defeat ignorance and compassion will triumph over despair. Deepavali offers an opportune reminder for all to do their part to achieve that victory.The influence of Deepavali over the years to forge better relationships and to bring our people together has grown tremendously. This is continually evident as Guyanese from all spheres of society participate in the various events including the grand spectacle of the motorcades and the beauty of the flickering Diyas.The PPP therefore hopes that the message of Deepavali will inspire all to work in the best interest of all Guyanese so that the light of prosperity will manifest itself in their lives.Shubh Deepavali to All!PNCR DEEPAVALI MESSAGE 2018The People’s National Congress Reform takes this opportunity to extend greetings to the Hindu Community in Guyana and indeed, to all Guyanese, on the occasion of Deepavali or Diwali.Diwali occurs on the night of Amavasya (New Moon) in the month of Kartik, which is considered to be the darkest night on the Hindu calendar and marks the return of Lord Rama after 14 years in exile. To welcome his return and to light his path, diyas were lit.Diwali is a joyous celebration of inner light over spiritual darkness; knowledge over ignorance and right over wrong. It is a festive restatement of the Hindu belief that good ultimately triumphs over evil.The PNCR has always been and will always remain respectful of Guyana’s cultural and religious diversity and believes that our diversity has worked and will continue to work to the country’s advantage. Guyana is a multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country. We see our diversity as an asset not a liability. Our Party is proud to belong to a society of many faiths.As we celebrate Diwali, the PNCR remains committed to ensuring unity in diversity so that our beloved country can experience real development and progress.Shubh Diwali to all Guyanese!IAC DIWALI/DEEPAVALI MESSAGE 2018The Indian Action Committee (IAC) extends Diwali greetings to all Guyanese, especially persons who are adherents of Sanatana Dharma on the occasion of the now globally-recognized festival of Deepavali or Diwali, which is derived from the Sanskrit language and means “a row of lights”. Diwali falls on the new moon night of the month of Kartika and is celebrated over a period of five days in India.The IAC is pleased to observe that the major Hindu Sabhas of Guyana have agreed upon one date for the celebration of the festival of Diwali in 2018.Diwali is associated with several mythological stories, one of them dealing with the belief of Hindus that, on the day of Diwali, Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana, King of Lanka, and that the people of Ayodhya celebrated his return by lighting thousands of diiyaas.The IAC recognizes that in Guyana the Goddess Lakshmi Maataa or Maha Lakshmi is venerated on the day of Diwali, her devotees ardently believing that their veneration of her will result in wealth and prosperity being bestowed upon them in the future.The bright lights of Diwali are believed, by Hindus, to guide and welcome Lakshmi Maataa into their homes where she can bestow her blessings on them and their families, and also to guide and welcome Lord Rama back to Ayodhya.The bright lights of Diwali are also considered to signify the illuminatory power of knowledge which destroys the darkness of ignorance and also to represent the triumph of good over evil.The IAC recognizes that at this time in Guyana, when persons should be happily celebrating the festival of Diwali, they are tens of thousands of Guyanese citizens living in desperate and punishing conditions since the collapse of the economy, especially the virtual destruction of the sugar industry which has seen over seven thousand former Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc. dislocated sugar workers and their families living precariously.Members of the IAC visited rural areas on the night of Diwali 2017 and noticed that many residences that were brightly lit in previous years were reduced to having only one diiyaa at their front gate signifying severe economic stress; and many residences which were lit, had significantly reduced amounts of diiyaas which also reflected the downturn on the economy.The IAC has noted that growing economic stress is affecting the vast majority of Guyanese, especially those who are living in rural areas.The IAC is fully cognizant of the plight of all of these distressed Guyanese and is calling for the Government and the Opposition to work together to restore economic growth in Guyana and thus mitigate the troubles affecting these citizens regardless of class, religious persuasion, ethnicity and political allegiance.The IAC calls upon all Guyanese to respect the sanctity of Diwali and engage in appropriate and fitting observances and activities.Shubh Diwali.GUYANA HINDU DHARMIC SABHAFestivals are an integral part of Hinduism. Each of our festivals is associated with our scriptures. Deepavali, a national holiday, stands as one of the loveliest festivals on our calendar. It is observed annually on Amawasya (New Moon) in the lunar, Hindu month of Kartik. The word Deepavali means cluster of lights. The festival has deeper significance than the word suggests.Deepavali is synonymous with Lakshmi Puja, where homage is paid to the Goddess Maha Lakshmi, whom the Vedas describe as the eternal source of fortune and abundance. Lakshmi Puja is done not simply to seek material benefits, but equally spiritual upliftment.The observance extends over a 5 day period which begins on the 13th day of the dark half of Kartik, when a single diya is lit with a prayer for longevity. The second day an increased number is kindled, celebrating the defeat of Narkasur, a despot who disrespected and confined women. Bhagwan Krishna brought his reign of tyranny to an end. Diwali is celebrated on the third day and the light dispersed by millions of diyas dispels every form of darkness. The next day, “pratipada” in the bright half of Kartik, Goverdhan puja is performed followed by the final day of Bhai Duj.  On the final day, sisters tie a thread on the wrists of their brothers renewing their love.The festival of Deepavali has philosophical, economic and social dimensions. Its social construct involves families and communities engaged in lighting diyas and meeting in a spirit of refreshing cordiality and joy. Deepavali threatens darkness in all its names and forms and influences the emergence of an illuminated society in which there exists understanding, mutual respect, love and harmony. The principal prayer at this time – “Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya”, from darkness, lead us unto light, sends the signal of hope, expectation and optimism.The Diwali Motorcade hosted by the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, is unique to Guyana and brings thousands of Guyanese of all walks of life together in a visible display of unity, peace and happiness across the country. The magnificent illuminated vehicles which display the artistry and creativity of Guyanese feature hundreds of young persons depicting various aspects of Lakshmi and divinity and reflects the myriad significances of the festival. This almost 4 decade old tradition is eagerly anticipated throughout the country as motorcades are held in all the counties with the largest moving along the scenic seawall. It would inconceivable to have Diwali without Dharmic Sabha’s motorcades as they occupy a special place in the hearts of all Guyanese.From an economic perspective. Deepavali is celebrated a time when historically the commercial community closed their books and opened new accounts. The Hindu perception of  “VASUDEVA KUTUMBAKAM”, the universe is one family, fits in admirably with the emphasis on global vision and coherent action for the elimination of poverty and the construction of a world where humankind can live in a totally equitable atmosphere. Deepavali engenders prosperity and economic stability, emphasizing prayers for success, and disciplined and hard work towards goals and material gains.A deeper spiritual consciousness is rekindled by the festival. Hindus believe that every individual is a particle of the Divine and that inherent in all of us is that divine spark which, so often, is dormant and needs to be reawakened. The little diyas or earthen lamps symbolize that light within and reminds us to diligently search for it. For when that light is found, it illuminates our lives and spreads to all those whom we come in contact with.President of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, Dr. Vindhya Vasini Persaud is delighted to extend greetings to all on this festive occasion and looks forward to an infinite number of years of Guyanese continuing to join together in celebrating this beautiful festival in a manner that can be emulated by the world. It is a heartwarming reminder of how beautifully we celebrate our diversity through respect for each other’s traditions, cultures and beliefs.As we observe this Diwali, she would like to remind that, Deepavali can make the most profound impact in a negative environment as it creates a climate conducive to reflections, fraternity, goodwill and mutual respect for each other.  Dr. Vindhya Persaud says, “As we celebrate, let us continue our drive and advocacy for the empowerment and  protection of children, women and the vulnerable against violence and abuse, equal opportunity for all, a safer and secure country, protection of citizens’ rights and welfare,  and economic progress and abundance for all Guyanese. These must remain prominent on our agenda. As a people, we must resolve to rid our society of acrimony, injustice and undemocratic practices so that Guyana will always be a country of unity, peace and prosperity. I am happy to share these joyous moments of love and cordiality with all Guyanese. Let the light of Deepavali burn infinitely, eliminating darkness in all its forms and fusing us in a bond of love, respect and unity. Shubh Deepavali Greetings to all.”GAWU’s Diwali Message 2018The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is once again pleased to join with all Guyanese and especially our Hindu community, to celebrate Diwali, widely regarded as the Festival of Lights. The Diwali observances give us an appropriate occasion to urge that the light of peace, tolerance, understanding and compromise, in today’s conditions, lighten our pathways and guide us in our daily lives. Like the thousands of Diwali diyas in many regions which will light up the darkness of the night, let our existence be unobstructed by the darkness that prevent our development and well-being.The Diwali celebration is one that today transcends one community and is supported nationally. The symbol of the lighted diyas is not only lovely to behold in the evening but it imparts the message of the value of spiritual enlightenment in our collective efforts to bring about conditions for our peace of mind and a satisfying life.With such sentiments in mind, GAWU is always pleased to be associated with the usually wide interest shown in the expectedly dazzling celebrations that are traditionally associated with Diwali.We wish all the practitioners of the Hindu faith, and indeed all Guyanese, a happy and enjoyable Diwali, the festival of lights.Let the lights, at this time, light up our pathway to harmony, economic well-being and our general upliftment.Happy Diwali! Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedDiwali greetings from religious, other organisationsNovember 10, 2015In “Opinion”DIWALI MESSAGES 2017October 18, 2017In “latest news”Diwali MessagesOctober 23, 2014In “Business” read more