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China landslide: Rescuers search for bodies

SHENZHEN, China (CNN) –

The parents of six-year-old Hong Laibao were delivering goods at an industrial park in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen when a mountain of construction waste collapsed, engulfing factory buildings and homes.

“I want my mum and my dad to come out faster,” he said, wiping tears from his eyes as he spoke to CNN from a local sports stadium being used as temporary shelter alongside his elder brother and aunt. So far, they’re nowhere to be found. A massive rescue effort involving 4,000 people has been underway since Sunday’s landslide, but the likelihood of finding people still alive is small, state broadcaster CCTV said Tuesday.

The first victim’s body has been pulled from the red mud and rubble, according to a televised press conference given by Shenzhen’s local government, and there are still more 76 reported missing. CNN footage showed dozens of excavators working to clear the rubble, dwarfed by the sheer scale of the landslide, which covered 380,000 square meters — or around 60 football fields. Densely packed with few air pockets, in some places the mud and debris was piled four stories tall, CCTV reported. The landslide toppled buildings and ruptured a gas pipeline, so clearing the site could take weeks, it added.

Meanwhile, Hong’s elder brother described how he called his father repeatedly until his cell phone battery went flat.

“When are they going to find our parents? In our culture, no matter what happened to them, we need to see them, even if it’s their remains,” said Hong Xianlin. At least 16 people remain hospitalized, three in a serious condition, according to Shenzhen’s emergency response office.

What caused the collapse?

What exactly caused the landslide isn’t clear. The company in charge of the waste dump’s construction purportedly raised safety concerns in a January report filed with the municipal government, according to the state-run Legal Evening News.

“About one million square meters of soil waste is left every year in Guangming New District and there’s need to find its way out. Therefore it is needed urgently to build new waste dumps,” the report read, according to the state-run Legal Evening News.

The report also raised the issue of soil erosion, as the dump used to be a quarry, the newspaper said.

“The area used to be a rock field, the rocks were all dug out, which created a hollow pond, so they filled the pond with mud waste, all kinds of mud waste, which turned into a giant mountain,” Liu Huizhen, Hong’s aunt, told CNN. Residents had also repeatedly complained about noise and dust coming from the waste dump, local media reported. Locals told Xinhua that hundreds of trucks carrying construction waste used to dump trash into the pile every day.

A security guard working in a factory in the area told Xinhua that a 250-yuan ($38) fee was charged per truck.

Migrant workers

Authorities said it was hard to calculate the exact number of missing because many of the people living and working there are thought to be migrant workers from China’s poorer, inland provinces, who are often unregistered or their relatives so far away to be contacted quickly. Hong’s parents were from the northern province of Henan and had been living in Shenzhen for 10 years. The city, just a short drive from the international financial center of Hong Kong, is regarded as the birthplace of China’s economic miracle but the disaster, which came four months after massive and chemical blasts killed almost 200 people in the northern city of Tianjin, shows the costs of the country’s rapid industrial transformation.

Little Hong visited the landslide Monday, with his aunt and elder brother, but refused to leave the site when it was time to go.

“He simply wouldn’t leave, and said that he’d regret it if leaves. He says he doesn’t want (to leave) even if all the money in the world is given to him, he only wants his parents,” said Liu, his aunt.

Top 5 Markets of 2015 – Insurance Journal

There was no shortage of new products launched by the insurance industry in 2015. Cyber, a risk that has consistently seen a lot of activity over at least the last several years, continued to be on the top of the industry s radar. Other segments insurers focused on included recreational boating, financial services, ridesharing and energy. Read on for a list of new products introduced in the top markets of 2015:

Top 5 Markets Of 2015 - Insurance JournalCyber
There were too many new products to name in the cyber segment this year, but the real story behind new cyber coverages was insurers focus on developing more niche-specific cyber options. One such niche was the high net worth space. Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE), a high-net worth insurer, partnered with a security firm to offer a cyber program for high net worth individuals and families.

Experts expect more cyber products will be developed on the high-net worth side.

We re looking at high net worth individuals as a more of a business exposure than as a consumer exposure, said Matt Cullina, president and CEO of IDT911, a cyber breach mitigation and response company that works with insurance carriers. There s certain homeowners insurance coverages now that are looking to add cyber type insurance offerings. Insurers are also trying to grab more cyber market share of small businesses.

It appears that small business insurance purchasers are realizing they are in as much jeopardy for a breach as their larger counterparts, said Steve Haase, president and CEO of InsureTrust. Haase said small businesses are finding cyber policies are valuable offering risk management services and affordable.

Prices have generally come down from where they were five years ago and coverage has become cutting edge.

ISO released cyber insurance coverage options for small- and mid-size businesses in March as optional endorsements to the ISO Businessowners Program. Main Street America Group also launched a cyber risk protection product for main street businesses in 19 states. Other segment-specific cyber products this year included:

  • ACE introduced a privacy and network liability coverage in its private and not-for-profit organization package policy.
  • The American Bankers Association Insurance Services (ABAIS) launched a new cyber product for banks that are insured through the Association.
  • Nationwide certified public accountant insurer CAMICO launched CyberCPA for accounting firms in October.
  • The Hartford expanded its management and professional liability insurance program for asset managers to include new and extended coverage for cyber and regulatory risks.

Top 5 Markets Of 2015 - Insurance JournalRecreational Boating

Insurers weren t afraid to get in the water with the boating segment this year.

It may signal a new outlook from insurers on the traditionally risky segment as boating-related accidents were down 14 percent in 2013, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The total reported recreational boating accidents also decreased 10 percent from 2012 to 2013. Or insurers could have been responding to the increase in overall boating sales. A report from the National Marine Manufacturers Association found personal watercraft sales increased 21.6 percent and total new boat imports were up 7.2 percent.

Americans are taking to the water: 87.3 million Americans participated in recreational boating at least once in 2014, said the report. Whatever the reason, insurers responded with new products in 2015:

  • ACE introduced an online tool to quickly generate quotes for boats.
  • Ironshore launched the Ironshore Premier Watercraft program, which offers insurance exclusively through the National Boat Owners Association.
  • XL Catlin began covering yachts of all sizes and created a larger underwriting and claims team to cover yachts valued from $50,000 to $50 million.
  • Recreational boat insurer SkiSafe Insurance expanded its program to cover sailboat risks with live aboard exposures.
  • Norman-Spencer Agency s Marine Insurances division launched its TradeWinds Yacht Insurance Program for yachts up to $2 million.
  • And following the sharing economy trend, BoatUS launched Peer-to-Peer Boat Rental insurance policy for boat owners to use when renting out their boats through Boatbound, a nationwide boat rental marketplace.

Top 5 Markets Of 2015 - Insurance JournalFinancial Services

Those working in the financial services industry as investment, hedge fund, and financial advisors such as accountants or bankers, have faced increased litigation and liabilities to emerging risks like cyber in recent years.

There is so much regulation around finance they are constantly seeing something new out of the SEC, said Paul Schiavone, regional head of financial lines in North America.

In 2015 the insurance industry started to address many of these exposures. Allianz rolled out numerous financial lines coverage options. The new products address many financial services including insurers, banks, investment managers, private equity, and hedge funds.

It s important to keep up to speed on the exposures for the financial industry and listen to what customers need because that is where the next product comes from, said Schiavone. Other insurers who created new products for this segment in 2015 included:

  • Argo Pro added its Asset Management Playbook product that includes capacity of up to $15 million for investment advisors, wealth management firms, and other related financial institutions.
  • Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) launched Professional First Bankers Professional Liability for banks, their executives and employees.
  • XL Catlin created a suite of new financial institution bond insurance policies for financial industry companies.
  • QBE North America and MGU Jorgensen & Co. partnered to provide accountants and consultants professional liability insurance.
  • Lockton Affinity and Monitor Liability Managers began offering a national CPA professional liability program.
  • OneBeacon started a new Financial Institutions business unit targeting all classes of financial institutions.

Top 5 Markets Of 2015 - Insurance JournalRidesharing

As state lawmakers worked to develop regulations for the emerging ridesharing industry, the insurance industry started rolling out coverage to address the insurance needs for these entities.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) tried to help jumpstart the efforts with a white paper on how state regulators should address the insurance of TNCs. The paper suggested that regulators and legislators divide the rideshare process into three periods and spell out coverage requirements TNC drivers must have during each one. Insurers have formulated policies through this concept.

[Ridesharing insurance products] are being introduced by innovative insurers willing to take on the calculated risk the paper states. Because the products are not being standardized but are being developed by different insurers, they will likely establish coverage via different methods for different time periods. ISO introduced two new personal auto coverage options for ridesharing drivers when they re logged in but don t have any passengers after the NAIC paper. Farmers Insurance introduced coverage in Colorado at the beginning of the year and later in Kansas. It was also the first insurer in California to offer a ridesharing insurance product back in May in anticipation of the rideshare law going into effect in the state on July 1. Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said at the time, the product launch was a big deal.

Just 28 states have enacted ridesharing regulations so far, and insurers have mainly released products in those states with clear guidelines. Other notable ridesharing products were launched this year by GEICO, USAA, MetLife Auto & Home, American Family Insurance and Allstate.

Top 5 Markets Of 2015 - Insurance JournalEnergy

As predicted earlier this year, the energy segment was a favorite of the insurance industry yet again in 2015. But it was the big names in insurance who made the most notable product moves this year. More states and companies are investing in renewable energy technologies and new energy exploration, which are both costly and complicated to insure. The drop in the price of oil also weeded out some players.

Companies that made product investments in this segment included:

  • Aon Benfield invested in a catastrophe model for marine and energy insurers.
  • XL Group s venture capital fund acquired all the shares of energy insurance product developer New Energy Risk.
  • Energi launched a new workers compensation injury-reporting program.
  • Everest Insurance and AEGIS partnered to provide admitted coverage.
  • Ironshoren raised its energy sector capacity limits to $35 million.

Letters: Uber, schools, Golden Dragons and more

JW_DISQUS_VIEW_COMMENTS[1]

Regarding a recent article (Novick reflects on paving way for Uber, Dec. 8 Tribune): City Commissioner Steve Novick said he never saw why the city should have a limited-entry system whereby a small number of taxi companies are granted a sharply restricted number of permits to operate here. One reason might be that it enables drivers to make a living. According to the Wall Street Journal (New rules for the gig economy, Dec. 10) nearly one-third of U.S. workers are in contingent arrangements such as temp firms, part-time jobs or are day laborers. Most such jobs do not pay a living wage, that is, one that covers housing, food, transportation and enables saving for medical emergencies and retirement. A recent Pew Research study of U.S. Census data confirms the growth of the upper class at the expense of everyone else (“The American middle class is losing ground,’ Dec. 9). Uber s business model furthers this trend of the past four decades.

Uber s success reflects the use of smartphone software to exploit vast and rising inequality in America. Uber would not have succeeded in the 1950s and 1960s because the economy was growing for the middle class, good paying full-time jobs were readily available even for high school dropouts. Strong unions enabled this. Uber s business model rests on treating drivers as contractors, not employees. Uber would not survive if it was compelled to pay Social Security and Medicare, withhold taxes, have their drivers covered by minimum wage law, workers compensation and unemployment insurance. Tom Shillock

Northeast Portland

Our children can t wait any longer

For too long we ve only taken incremental steps toward improving our child welfare system. Our current system is driven by outdated policies focusing on investing resources after families are in crisis, not allowing us to meet the needs of our most vulnerable children. This crisis is national, but especially affects Oregon. I ve seen how badly reform is needed. From one of our mental health therapists:

… I am writing in great support of the Family Stability & Kinship Care Act. Located in the Gresham Child Welfare office, I work with survivors of domestic violence and their children. My service is intended to help nonoffending caregivers understand how domestic violence impacts children as well as help strengthen the parent-child relationship, which often needs repair after the trauma. Clients have told me the supportive educational weekly home visit is part of what has helped strengthen their decision to not be in abusive relationships.

Oregon s congressional delegation must stop putting Band-Aids on this issue and develop comprehensive solutions that put the safety and well-being of children first. We need to shift our focus from reactive to preventive. With smarter investments, our child welfare system can be the beacon of hope it was meant to be. This isn t just about supporting better outcomes for children, but families and communities also. We can all be a part of this by telling Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Earl Blumenauer to take immediate action to save our children and our families.

Thank you. Susan Stoltenberg

East Portland

Schools should severely restrict recruiting

Portland military recruiter Ernie Freund s letter in the Nov. 19 issue of the Tribune claims that recruiters efforts in high schools were disrupted by mobs of unidentified 20-year-olds. He accused students of distributing inflammatory information condemning recruiters and soldiers as terrorists, hitmen and baby killers. He wondered whether the unknown outsiders were armed or criminals ? They, in fact, were Franklin High School students critiquing recruiters representations.

He admonished them to research facts and exercise critical thought. Has Mr. Freund researched the facts and exercised critical thought before making his outrageous, unfounded accusations? My four years of active duty suggested that the military poses a grisly life for impressionable teenagers a record of chronic violence, racism, alcoholism, domestic and sexual abuse, surprising numbers of homicides, and suicides more frequent than in civilian society. The Pentagon also is the largest hazardous polluter in the world, controlling 31,000 contaminated sites. In Vietnam, as a security officer, I witnessed the aftermath of bombings that killed hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese. Commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity was normal. I discovered that we were, in fact, mercenaries, hitmen and killers of the elderly and babies.

Today, U.S. military forces daily engage in illegal aggression with impunity. The wars against and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq are illegal on their face. Secret operations continue to terrorize people in 150 countries. The job of U.S. military recruiters is to induce young people to join an organization that regularly violates U.S. constitutional and international law, producing a mercenary army that endangers all Americans due to blowback. Their promotions depend upon their recruiting success, forcing the Army to investigate recruiter improprieties of fraud and coercion. School systems should severely restrict or prohibit military recruiting in public schools.

S. Brian Willson

Former USAF captain

Southeast Portland

Arts tax credit comes at a cost

Mark Buser s Dec. 10 Op-Ed on using Oregon s Cultural Trust Tax Credit to reduce the cost of one s gifts to the arts from $2,000 to $241 left out one important fact. The savings to the taxpayer comes at a cost to all the other services of government. As Buser says, To look at it another way, the state of Oregon is allowing you to direct up to $1,000 of your state taxes to the Oregon Cultural Trust. That means $1000 less goes to Oregon s general fund money that could otherwise educate a fourth grader or provide a grant to a college student. If you can afford to donate $2,000 up front and then wait for your tax refund, then you should make the choice with your eyes open … a tax break for funding cultural events or tax funding for education … what s your priority? We can donate to the arts, including to the Cultural Trust, and not exploit the state s tax credit. That way we grab a halo for contributing to the arts, without taking money away from our kids education or other critical state programs.

Jody Wiser

Northwest Portland

Raising minimum wage affects higher earners

In response to an article on the regional minimum wage, something that was not brought up is how this wage hike will affect those make currently $15.01 to $25 an hour. If they hike the minimum wage that high overnight, I will have to stop eating out, have to buy less at the store and slow down my spending on everything else. It will transform all of my hard work to get a degree, and make what was a living wage – to barely getting by. My rent is going up 30 percent in April, which in this current market is unrealistic. Thus my rent will now be about 50 percent of my net income, up from about 40 percent or my normal net income of 40 hours a week.

All other comparable apartments are just as high or higher. I was born here and do not have some huge influx of cash from a house sale in another state or a much larger income. My girlfriend and I are already scrambling to reduce costs to afford this rent increase. My wage will only get a COL increase and my girlfriend is self employed and has limited ability to increase her income. So what about those of us in the $15.01 to $25 an hour income bracket? What are our options? I see no one speaking up for us.

All I see is how people want something for nothing. They want $15 an hour for no sacrifice and make others like my girlfriend and I pay for it. If the cities and the state want to start having people like me a person working full time at a good company at what was a decent income, paying all bills and being responsible asking for food stamps and assistance, then go ahead and raise the local minimum wage that much that fast. See how it really affects low-income, hard-working people and families that are already struggling due to the increased housing costs.

Paul Soles

Wilsonville

Support the Golden Dragons team

Regarding your story Portlanders to Paddle Down Under (Dec. 15 Tribune), I am the captain of the Golden Dragons Club Crew Women 2016. We want to thank you so much for acknowledging our hard work and dedication to our sport of dragon boating. These athletic women, all over 60, have trained hard for the chance to represent the Golden Dragons Portland, and the Northwest. It is the opportunity of a lifetime. But the opportunity comes at a cost. Each team member is responsible for uniforms, fees, and travel expenses. The trip will be expensive for everyone, and many on the team are on fixed income. Your tax deductible donation will be used to equitably defer team members out-of-pocket expenses so they may participate in the prestigious World Championships.

Tax-deductible donations may be made by check payable to Golden Dragons (note in memo Club Crew ) and mailed to: Golden Dragons, Shelia Orwoll, Treasurer, 2210 S.W. Scenic Drive, Portland 97225; or to www.gofundme.com/73792GZG[2]

Janet Wetzel

Southeast Portland

References

  1. ^ JW_DISQUS_VIEW_COMMENTS (portlandtribune.com)
  2. ^ www.gofundme.com/73792GZG (www.gofundme.com)