Today’s news includes some more stories from papers abroad as well as the US, including the abuse of migrant farm workers in Canada, a COVID-19 outbreak in Japan caused by US troops, and the mental health toll on Singaporean young adults. As always, all the stories you see here are collected from the newspaper front pages curated by Newseum.org.
Cape Manzamo in Okinawa, Photo courtesy of OIST reproduced under CC BY 2.0 License
A recent coronavirus outbreak has yet again raised scrutiny of the US Armed Forces personnel stationed on Okinawa. This, in addition with several high-profile criminal incidents involving military personnel and the local residents has caused friction between the US and Japan, and in this diplomatically fraught time this seems like another potential flashpoint. A particular point of contention is that US personnel are immune to immigration oversight, which would have caught the infected individuals in quarantine before they had the chance to spread the virus.
Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland has modified an emergency order preventing school systems from reversing the reopening of schools. He said that schools themselves should have the ability to decide whether or not to reopen, but left in the caveat that individual schools can be closed again if a spike occurs (despite that definitely being too late to prevent something terrible from happening, as evidenced by NY’s reticence in closing schools early in the pandemic). The move has not been popular. From local officials to health experts, this move has been roundly criticized.
Canola field in Canada. Photo by DrBeetrootCa reproduced under CC BY-SA 4.0 License
It has come to light that several large agribusinesses in Canada are restricting the movement rights of migrant workers on their farms. This, in many cases, involves coercing workers into signing agreements saying they will remain within the premises of the farm, which has forced many to forego religious rites and contact with loved ones. Many of the accommodations laid out for these workers are grossly insufficient for long-term habitation and many workers have attempted to file official grievances regarding their conditions. Many more have been intimidated into silence by their reliance on their employer’s good will to stay in the country.
Suicide was already a problem among people in their 20s in Singapore. While Singapore had been making progress on that front in the 2000s, the trend reversed in 2015 and those hit hardest are young adults. A problem that mental health experts are trying to tackle is resistance to seeking help, as one third of respondents in a survey of people experiencing suicidal ideation would not seek help. Much of this is due to the stigma placed on those suffering from mental illness. Unfortunately, the social isolation and financial difficulty many young people in Singapore face has only been exacerbated by COVID-19 and so many experts fear a sharp increase this year.
After locally decreasing before reopening, experts in Massachusetts are alarmed to see a bounce in the infection rate. While not a major surge yet, epidemiologists are warning (yet again) that a modest rise almost always precedes an explosion in cases. Frontline medical personnel are already seeing emergency COVID cases and predict that another surge could come as early as the end of this month. Because we actually live in a disaster movie, the governor’s office has insisted that Amity Beach Massachusetts will remain open because the shark problem virus is under control.
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