Election day 2016 was off to a slow start at some polling stations visited by The Gleaner in East Portland. At Ken Wright Primary, voting was delayed despite the polling station opening on time. Election day workers along with the police were on location; however, the presiding officer was absent and ballot papers along with other documents had not yet arrived. Among those arriving early to vote was Lurline Dowie, who complained that she was unable to cast her ballot, as they were unable to accommodate her due to the absence of ballot papers, ink and other material. A similar situation also existed at a centre at Breast Works, where the voting process was delayed for more than 30 minutes. It was somewhat different at Boundbrook Primary, Port Antonio High, Hill Preparatory, Port Antonio Primary and Norwich Primary, where polling stations were opened on time and voting was progressing smoothly. Both candidates for the area, Linvale Bloomfield of the Peoples National Party (PNP) and Derron Wood of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) coasted their votes at Drapers All Age. Bloomfield is confident of victory and predicted that his margin of victory will be larger than in 2011 when he defeated Patrick Lee by 1246 votes. Wood on the other hand has indicated that he will create a major upset. EAST PORTLAND CONDADATES JLP: Derron Wood PNP: Linvale Bloomfield
Dozens of blue-collar Bangladeshi workers at a factory in Dubai are preparing to sue their employer as he has not paid them in months, reports UNB.They are among a group of 300 workers stuck there without money and food. Some of them have become illegal residents after their visas expired and the company has taken no step to renew them.Bangladesh consulate’s first secretary (labour) Fakir Muhammad Munawar Hossain told UNB that 168 of the workers are Bangladeshis. “We’re in touch with them,” he said.One of them told Khaleej Times that they were penniless and had no food to eat. “Our visas are expired and our passports are still with the employer. We cannot work elsewhere as we don’t have our documents,” he said.Dar Al Ber Society charity has been distributing food items and conducted a medical camp at the workers’ accommodation on Wednesday after learning about the situation from an Indian expat.Munawar said the workers were employed by a “reputable Indian construction company” which recently went bankrupt and that some workers had not been paid in six or more months.Most of the workers’ salaries range in between 700 and 1,500 dirham (roughly Tk 16,000 and Tk 34,500).The employer, who has not been named, promised to clear the dues at the earliest, Khaleej Times reported.The UAE is one of the most preferred destinations of Bangladeshi workers in the Middle-East. Last year, they sent back $2,425.4 million or 15.6 per cent of the total remittance.Munawar said they were providing the workers with legal assistance and food but solving the problem will be a bit complex under the local law.He also spoke about an alternative. “If they give up on their demand, they can go back with the guarantee money.”But the Bangladeshi workers told him that they will move the court. “The procedures can take about seven months,” the first secretary said. “We’ll assist anyone willing to file cases and help those who want to go back.”Munawar said the problem being faced by the Bangladeshi workers was not uncommon. “Many companies are being shut down regularly and we’re doing whatever we can to help our workers,” he said.But the situation appeared to be very grim for the workers. One of them told the newspaper that they had to depend on the mercy of the passerby or nearby cafeterias for meals.”It’s too embarrassing to beg for food. We came here to work with dignity … not to beg or become illegal residents,” he said.
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(RNS) — On a Tuesday evening under the roof of a public picnic shelter, a group of women ages 20 to 55 groaned through a series of high-intensity exercises in the 88-degree heat and humidity.Cheered on by their leader, who yelled, “you’re getting stronger,” and, “you’re going to feel like Popeye,” the women press on with jumping jacks, burpee box jumps and a set of other cardio exercises with inventive names: “dying cockroach,” “ski moguls,” and “sparky crabs.”But the intensity of the boot-camp-like drill ended on a quieter, more reflective note 45-minutes later as the women came into a circle, their faces still flush from working out, to close with a prayer: “Lord, thank you for the time we’ve been able to be together and just exercise,” said Julie Swift, one of the women. “Please bless all these ladies and sustain them through their week. In Jesus’ name we pray.”After a unison “amen,” they roll up their mats, give each other a hug and head home — until the next workout.A host of modern exercise groups have sprung up in the last decade that aim to create fitter bodies, minds and hearts: CrossFit, SoulCycle, Pure Barre, Orangetheory. Stephanie Walton demonstrates a plank exercise for Females in Action workout participants in Apex, N.C. RNS photo by Yonat ShimronAll promise to empower, strengthen and transform while creating a sense of community.The latest is Females in Action, a Southern-style fitness program designed to make women stronger and develop friendships. The FiA brand is the female equivalent to F3 — its larger male counterpart, which aims to build men up through fitness, fellowship and faith.But unlike the for-profit studios that cater to urban millennials willing and able to pay $40 a class, Females in Action (like F3) is free. Workout sessions are peer-led. They most often take place outdoors, in public parks or school fields. And they typically end with a spiritual high five.“We are focused on fitness, but it goes beyond that,” explained Catherine Butler, who leads one of three Charlotte, North Carolina, FiA groups. “We are a community of women that lifts each other up.”Started six years ago, FiA has grown to 53 regional workout groups spread across multiple states but heavily concentrated in North and South Carolina. Many are located in the suburbs and appeal to churchgoing working women whose husbands oftentimes participate in the male counterpart. FiA estimates 5,700 women work out at its exercise sessions, and many say the biggest draw is the camaraderie and support the women offer one another.“There’s nothing ever negative here,” said Caroline Uenking, 20, who accompanied her mother, Heather, to a recent workout. “It’s all positive.”Caroline, who has some problems with her calves, and Heather, who has a hard time touching her toes, are never singled out, they said. Instead, they’re encouraged to do what they can, altering a particular exercise to meet their abilities.Like the F3 male-only version from which it borrows extensively, the workouts have a certain military style that stems from one of its founders, David Redding, a former member of the Green Berets. Although some workouts incorporate yoga and others running, the typical session features aerobic exercise sets in which participants push themselves as hard as they can, rest and repeat.In keeping with military nomenclature, participants are required to have nicknames, too. Stephanie Walton, the leader of the Apex group, is known as Peachtree; Janice Azeveda, who leads a group that meets in Cary, is known as Van Gogh.But although the exercises are hardcore, the female-only environment makes it more inviting for some women.A list of exercises drawn up by Stephanie Walton who leads the Females in Action workout in Apex, N.C. RNS photo by Yonat ShimronSwift, 55, said she felt overwhelmed attending gym classes alongside men.“I would prefer women who can influence each other,” she said.The gender restriction may be part of FiA’s more traditional appeal. If some of the newer fitness center brands draw millennials with no particular faith, FiA draws people who tend to be more religiously conventional.Though not explicitly Christian, FiA promotes the idea of a belief in a higher being, whatever that might be called (a formula that also echoes the second Alcoholics Anonymous step, “We came to be aware that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”).Walton, a mom now studying for a degree in health and fitness science, said FiA made her a better person.“Since I’ve been doing FiA I’ve been going to church more,” she said. “I’ve been doing more soul-searching. It’s just part of it. You start caring about people. You see their children being born. You do things for their husbands when their husbands are sick.”Not everyone in F3 is religiously devout, and not all sessions end in prayer. But the group leader, called a “Q,” is expected to end each workout with what’s called a “Circle of Trust,” intended as a short time to reflect.Azevedo, who leads a 5:30 a.m. workout in nearby Cary, tends to keep things strictly nonsectarian. She concluded a recent session by reading a quote from personal coach Cheryl Richardson about the importance of self care. A 58-year-old preschool teacher, Azevedo said she nearly fainted the first time she attended a FiA workout. She was never very athletic, she said, and gyms did nothing for her. “If you decide not to go, nobody at the gym is going to say, ‘Hey, I missed you. Where were you?’” she said. “With this particular group, if you’re not there, somebody checks in with you and asks, ‘Are you OK?’ That’s a beautiful thing, having relationships of support. That’s really important.”Through FiA, she’s lost weight and gained muscle. Best of all, FiA empowers women and cheers them on.“It’s a life-changing group,” she said. “Physically you change because you’re taking care of your body. Mentally you change because you’re meeting new people and establishing new relationships and spiritually you change because you’re taking time out to reflect on your life. It’s a good thing.” Share This! Boy’s removal from church service spurs debate in UK on welcoming those with aut … Share This! Yonat Shimron Yonat Shimron is an RNS National Reporter and Senior Editor.,Add Comment Click here to post a comment