China Objects to THAAD, South South Korea’s Tourism, Imports Suffer

Beijing’s reported economic retaliation against South Korea for deploying the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system continues to target certain sectors, like imports of Korean cosmetics, canceling K-pop concerts, and a ban on Chinese tour groups to South Korea.

At Seoul’s Namsam Tower, smaller than usual crowds gather to watch the daily Korean cultural performances and to look out at the sprawling modern metropolis from the highest point in the city.

Buses of visitors from countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and Hong Kong still arrive at this popular site, but there are fewer visitors overall than in the past because Chinese tourists have virtually disappeared in the last month.

Fewer Chinese visitors

Chinese tourists accounted for nearly half of the 17 million visitors to South Korea last year. But the latest government figures indicate the number of tourists from China fell by nearly 20 percent in March. Local travel agencies, airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and duty-free operators have all been affected.

WATCH: Video report by Brian Padden

In Seoul, some tour groups and restaurants that cater exclusively to Chinese visitors have temporally shut down. Even travel agencies not directly affected by the abrupt decline of Chinese visitors are worried this could hurt South Korea’s image as a tourist destination.

“While it is comfortable for me to work as a tour guide because my guests do not need to line up and can avoid the inconvenience, it is always good to have many tourists visiting South Korea. It is sad,” said Kim Sun-hee, a Malaysian tour group guide.

THAAD reprisal

Chinese officials have objected to the advance weapons system as an unnecessary and provocative regional military escalation, and voiced concern that the system’s powerful radar could be used to spy on them and other countries as well. Washington and Seoul insist THAAD is needed to defend against North Korea’s increasing nuclear and missile capabilities.

Beijing has also been accused of limiting some imports of Korean cosmetics and other products, and canceling K-pop concerts. Shares of the Korean cosmetics conglomerate AmorePacific dropped significantly in the wake of the reported Chinese retaliation, as did the stock value of the Korean automaker Hyundai after photos of a vandalized Hyundai car circulated widely on Chinese social media.

And the Lotte Group, the South Korean department store chain that provided the military with a plot of land for the THAAD deployment has had more than 50 of its stores closed in China.

Quiet pressure

Beijing has not acknowledged imposing a tourist ban, but travel agencies in Seoul have been told by their partners in Beijing that tours have been canceled because of pressure from the China government.

Shon Ho-kwon, the president of Modetour International Inc. in Seoul, said he was told officials from the China National Tourism Administration contacted virtually every travel agency and “made a verbal warning that there will be many disadvantages if (the agencies) continued selling South Korea tourism products.”

“There is no document to prove this, but clearly it is understood that China is making such suggestions,” Shon said.

A prolonged dispute between South Korea and China, its largest trading partner, could significantly hurt both economies in the long run.

“South Korea last year had about $4 billion in investment in China. China had about $2 billion that they invested in South Korea,” said James Kim, research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

But there is no resolution in sight with some travel agencies reporting no Chinese reservations for the upcoming spring holidays, which had been the busiest tourist season of the year.

Youmi Kim contributed to this report.

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The High Cost of Incivility at Work

Workplaces have become less civil spaces than they once were. People don’t say please and thank you. Employees send e-mails and texts during meetings, ignoring the speaker and tuning out of the discussion. Others take too much credit for collaborative work. 

The nasty looks and belittling comments reached a point at law firm Bryan Cave, in Irvine, California, that the partners held a civility workshop.

Managing partner Stuart Price says working together toward a common goal set the right tone for the workshop, as the employees set up a code of civil behavior. The firm has the 10 points of the code displayed on a granite block in the lobby. 

“I think two items in the code really stand out for me,” Price said. “No. 3 is we treat each other equally and with respect, even if the conditions are very difficult. Then the last item in our code is we address incivility. If you don’t address incivility, then the plaque just becomes a piece of granite, but it doesn’t have life.”

He says they no longer let uncivil behavior slide. 

“The first step for us along the way is to address it with the person, privately, just talk about what happened,” he said. “If the pattern continues with that specific person, we will have further conversations and if it’s particularly problematic, we might terminate them.”

Creating a civil work environment has impacted the firm in many positive ways. 

“A year after we had this workshop, we won Best Place to Work in Orange County in the large company category,” Price said. “In terms of performance, it seems to me that when we’re most focused on how we treat each other, when were we’re most focused on civility, the financial performance is at its best.”

The High Cost of Incivility

A culture of civility helps employees feel safer, happier and better, said Georgetown University management professor Christine Porath. She incorporated results of her research and personal experiences in a new book, Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace.

She told VOA she witnessed the consequences of incivility years before she started studying it. 

“I thought I scored my dream job after my graduating from college,” she said. “I got to work at one of the largest sports marketing organization in the world. When I took the full-time job, I learned that it was a very toxic culture. The top leaders had a bad behavior, narcissism. And they had a tendency to belittle and demean people in front of others.”

Then it became clear to her the negative effect incivility had on people. 

“It was contagious, too,” she said. “It affected their performance and motivation and mood throughout the day, but they took that into their relationships with others; clients, customers and that kind of thing. And I just saw that it was hurting the organization. And it was also hurting employees, not only their work life, but they were taking it home with them.”

And, she discovered, incivility had a physical impact. 

“Then the second thing was my dad. (He) had had two toxic bosses. Even though he tried to protect me from learning about how bad that was, he ended up in the hospital with a heart attack scare,” she said.

More Rudeness

Porath notes that civility has been declining for years.

“When I started studying it in about 1998, it was less than 25 percent (people) were affected by this on a weekly basis, and those numbers most recently hovered over 50 percent — meaning more people are experiencing or witnessing disrespectful, rude behavior in the workplace these days.”

She conducted surveys, asking people “Why are you uncivil?”

“Over 60 percent of people say, ‘Because I’m overwhelmed or stressed.’ People are asked to do more with less resources. The other thing is technology. The fact that people communicate so often now with e-mails and other forms of technology, it makes being civil tougher in a sense that you don’t have the nonverbal (cues), you don’t have the tone of voice. So typically there are more misunderstandings with technological communication,” she said.

Let’s be e-Civil

To avoid those sorts of misunderstandings, Porath recommends that you do not send an email if you’re feeling very stressed, angry or can’t solve a disagreement. If you’re not sure how your humor, sarcasm or criticism will be received, reread, rethink and resist the temptation to hit Send. And if you are uncertain about your tone, save the message and review it later with a fresh perspective before sending it. If you have to get something off your chest, write your note now but maybe send it later using delayed delivery. Finally, she suggests trying to have a phone call, or Skype, or meet face to face under those circumstances.

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El Salvador Congress Approves Law Prohibiting Metals Mining

El Salvador’s Congress on Wednesday approved a law prohibiting all metal mining projects in a bid to protect the poor Central American country’s environment and natural resources.

The new law, which enjoyed cross-party support from 70 lawmakers, blocks all exploration, extraction and processing of metals, whether in open pits or underground.

The legislation prohibits the use of toxic chemicals like cyanide and mercury, and makes permanent an executive order passed by former President Antonio Saca in 2009 and renewed by subsequent administrations.

Several regions of the country have attracted interest from international gold and silver mining companies.

In October, El Salvador won an arbitration at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) against the Australian-Canadian miner OceanaGold Corp, which was seeking $250 million over the 2009 denial of an extraction permit.

In its decision, the ICSID ordered the company to pay El Salvador $8 million for legal costs.

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Bob Dylan Archives Open in Oklahoma; Public Center Planned

Part of music icon Bob Dylan’s once-secret 6,000-piece archive, including thousands of hours of studio sessions, film reels and caches of unpublished lyrics, has opened in Oklahoma.

More than 1,000 pieces of the collection spanning Dylan’s six-decade career are available to scholars at the Gilcrease Museum’s Helmerich Center for American Research in Tulsa.

The opening comes a year after the George Kaiser Family Foundation and the University of Tulsa acquired the collection for an estimated $15 million to $20 million.

The public will get a glimpse of some of the material when the Bob Dylan Center opens in downtown Tulsa’s Brady Arts District in about two years.

The center will occupy the opposite side of a building that houses a center devoted to Woody Guthrie, one of Dylan’s major influences.

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Cruise Digs Up a Monster in ‘The Mummy’

Universal Pictures is going back to its roots — monsters.

The studio Wednesday debuted footage from its upcoming adventure film The Mummy, which opens a monster universe drawing on Universal’s vault of classic properties like Bride of Frankenstein, Invisible Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Tom Cruise stars in the Alex Kurtzman-directed The Mummy, which is equal parts action and horror as Cruise’s explorer Nick Morton attempts to combat an ancient evil that has been unlocked and threatens to destroy the world.

Sofia Boutella is the Mummy, once an Egyptian princess who turned to the dark side when denied the throne.

Kurtzman and the cast, including Boutella, Annabelle Wallis and Jake Johnson, discussed Cruise’s famous commitment to eye-popping stunts.

“I think I was brought onto this movie to be afraid to do stunts with Tom Cruise,” Johnson said. “Tom does it all and he makes his co-stars do it, too. And I do mean ‘make.”’

Johnson laughed that when he would complain when he got hurt or bruised, Cruise would quip back: “Yeah, we jumped off a building dummy. It hurts!”

Cruise, who is on location for another filming, delivered a video message to the audience.

“My love for this began with universal classic films,” Cruise said. “To usher in a new age of gods and monsters is something that makes me very proud and excited.”

Audiences can meet “the original monster” June 9.

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US Arrests Turkish Banker in Iran Sanctions Case

Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a prominent ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came to New York this week to school investors on his state bank’s plans to sell new dollar bonds.

Instead, he was placed under arrest by U.S. authorities and accused of conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran by teaming with wealthy Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal transactions through U.S. banks to Iran’s government.

“United States sanctions are not mere requests or suggestions; they are the law,” Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said in a statement in New York, where Atilla was arraigned Tuesday.

He was arrested at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday.

Gold, currency allegedly sent to Iran

Atilla “protected and hid Zarrab’s ability to provide access to international financial networks,” U.S. authorities said in documents filed in the U.S. court. The documents allege that gold and currency were sent to Iran, while documents were forged to disguise the transactions as food shipments so as to comply with humanitarian exceptions to the sanctions law.

Atilla’s arrest and the case of Zarrab — arrested last year in Florida — drew a sharp rebuke from the Turkish government, which said it planned to raise the matter with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he visits Ankara this week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkish media.

Relations between the U.S. and Turkey are frayed over the Syrian civil war and Turkish demands for the extradition of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Turkish leadership blames for July’s failed coup in Turkey.

Diplomatic dispute?

In terms of the impact of the recent development on the U.S. Turkish relationship, some analysts suggest it could potentially be an issue as the two sides view the case through different lenses.

“For the U.S., it is a case of sanctions law violation,” said Ihan Tani, a journalist who follows U.S.-Turkish relations. “But some people close to the Turkish president seem to be involved with Reza Zarrab.”

Tani added that because of the involvement of close aides of the Turkish president, the issue could escalate into a diplomatic dispute.

But Tani said Atilla knew that U.S authorities viewed him as a potential suspect.

“He knew that he was part of the U.S. investigation here. So why did he come to this country? It is hard to understand. If he took a risk, now he is paying for it,” Tani said.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment on his motives to travel to the U.S.

Lender’s shares drop

The arrest could have major financial implications for Turkish state lender Halkbank. Bank shares posted their biggest one-day fall on Wednesday.

Halkbank, Turkey’s fifth-largest bank in terms of assets, vowed to investigate.

“Our bank and relevant state bodies are conducting the necessary work on the subject, and information will be shared with the public when it is obtained,” Halkbank said in a statement.

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Rare Image of Harriet Tubman to Be Auctioned in New York

A photograph of Harriet Tubman, believed to be the earliest-known image of the anti-slavery crusader and showing her as younger than she is normally depicted, will go up for auction Thursday in New York.

The photograph, previously unseen by scholars, shows Tubman in her late 40s, wearing an intricately decorated blouse and voluminous skirt, and sitting in a chair, leaning one arm on its back.

“It’s quite remarkable: This is what she looked like in her prime Civil War period when she was working as a spy for Lincoln,” Wyatt Day, the specialist organizing the sale at Swann Auction Galleries, said in a telephone interview.

He noted the photograph was taken about three years after the American Civil War ended in 1865. “All of the images show her as an older woman, maybe in her 70s. She looks a bit tired, and here she looks vibrant and strong.”

Kate Clifford Larson, a historian and Tubman biographer, said the photograph, which was brought to Swann last year after being purchased at auction by a collector of vintage photos about 10 years ago, could help the public “reimagine” Tubman.

“There are so many details about it that are thrilling,” she said in a phone interview. “She’s so much younger and she’s dressed so beautifully, so it helps us look at her in a different way.”

Tubman, who escaped from slavery in Maryland when she was in her 20s, later led dozens of black slaves to freedom using the Underground Railroad and became a Union Army spy during the Civil War and women’s suffragist.

The U.S. Treasury Department said last year it planned to put her on the face of the $20 bill, replacing former President Andrew Jackson, making her the first African-American so honored.

The photograph for auction is in the form of a carte de visite, a 19th-century custom in which people would leave photos of themselves as a calling card.

It appears in a carte-de-visite album compiled by the Quaker abolitionist Emily Howland. The album is estimated to sell for $20,000 to $30,000, the gallery said.

Day said research had shown the photographer Benjamin F. Powelson, who made Tubman’s carte de visite, only spent time near Tubman’s home in Auburn in upstate New York from 1868 to 1869, when Tubman was about 48.

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Vice Media Hopes Its Edgy Journalism Will Play Well in Mideast

Vice Media is bringing its edgy style of journalism to the Middle East to tap what it thinks is an underserved market of young, digital-hungry consumers.

Vice announced its arrival with a party Wednesday at the glitzy Armani Hotel in the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, the global trade hub where the New York-based company will set up its regional headquarters.

Vice reckons the region’s youthful population coupled with some of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world in countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates make it an ideal market to expand into.

“We think that this is the time that we come in and steal a lot of market share,” Vice Chief Executive Shane Smith told Reuters in an interview Wednesday.

Vice, which is aiming for 50 staff members in Dubai by the end of the year, will launch a website and digital channel this summer and is discussing a 24-hour regional cable channel to be broadcast from the emirate. The company will produce news and lifestyle content in multiple languages including Arabic, English, Farsi, Turkish and Urdu.

Vice has documented migrant worker abuses in Dubai, won acclaim for a documentary while embedded with Islamic State and garnered widespread attention when it took former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman to North Korea.

‘Right side of history’

“We’re always going to be looking at social justice, we’re always going to be looking at environmental justice, we’re always going to be looking at being on the right side of history, especially with millennials and our audience,” Smith said.

Vice is likely to run into the same obstacles it has faced elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, “where journalists are most subjected to constraints of every kind,” according to global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

Worth $4.2 billion at its last valuation, Vice has transformed in 23 years from a punk magazine in Montreal, Quebec, into a global multimedia brand.

Its regional partner is Afghan media company Moby Group, whose Dubai offices are a few kilometres from the Trump International Golf Club, which was featured in a 2016 Vice episode on U.S. cable channel HBO about migrant worker exploitation.

Vice and Moby share a common shareholder in 21st Century Fox, and the Afghan company holds a license from the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, allowing it to expand into Iran — a market Vice wants to tap.

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At Last: Bob Dylan to Receive Nobel Prize in Stockholm

Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan will receive his Nobel Literature Prize diploma and medal in the next few days in Stockholm, where is he due to perform this weekend, the secretary of the Swedish Academy said on Wednesday.

The Academy’s decision to give the bard of “Blowin’ in the Wind” the literature prize caused controversy, only deepened by Dylan’s silence about the award for weeks afterwards and his no-show at the annual banquet in December.

“The good news is that the Swedish Academy and Bob Dylan have decided to meet this weekend,” Sara Danius said in a blog post. “The Academy will then hand over Dylan’s Nobel diploma and the Nobel medal, and congratulate him on the Nobel Prize in Literature.”

The 75-year-old Dylan is due to give concerts in Stockholm on April 1 and the following day and then another in the southern Swedish city of Lund on April 9.

Danius said that the notoriously media-shy Dylan would not hold the traditional Nobel lecture at this point.

“The Swedish Academy is very much looking forward to the weekend and will show up at one of the performances. Please note that no Nobel Lecture will be held,” Danius wrote.

“The Academy has reason to believe that a taped version will be sent at a later point,” she added.

In order to receive 8 million Swedish crown ($903,000) prize, Dylan needs to give a lecture within six months from December 10. It does not necessarily need not be delivered in Stockholm.

The decision to award the prize to Dylan, whom the Academy said had “created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” was seen by some as slap in the face to mainstream writers of poetry and prose.

But the Academy has a tradition of stepping outside the traditional boundaries of literary form, awarding the 1953 prize to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in part for his “brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values.”

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До Луцька після обстрілу консульства прибув посол Польщі Ян Пєкло

До Луцька прибув посол Республіки Польща в Україні Ян Пєкло. У складі делегації також журналісти з Польщі, які представляють різні засоби масової інформації, зокрема, один з найбільших телеканалів, TVP Polonia.

У Генеральному консульстві Польщі Пєкло дав брифінг, також відбувся телеміст із Польщею. На запитання представників польських ЗМІ відповіли місцеві активісти, журналісти та чиновники.

У ніч на 29 березня на четвертому поверсі адміністративного приміщення Генерального консульства Польщі у Луцьку стався вибух. В СБУ заявили, що, за попередніми даними, причиною став постріл з гранатомета РПГ-26. Жертв внаслідок вибуху немає. Відкрито кримінальне провадження за статтею «теракт».

Президент України Петро Порошенко під час телефонної розмови із польським колегою Анджеєм Дудою запропонував залучити фахівців із Польщі до розслідування обстрілу будівлі польського Генконсульства в Луцьку.

Як повідомляє прес-служба українського президента 29 березня, він також засудив напад і назвав його «брутальним і цинічним».

Міністерство закордонних справ Польщі викликало 29 березня посла України у Варшаві Андрія Дещицю через напад.

Міністр закордонних справ України Павло Клімкін заявив, що обурений провокацією проти Генерального консульства Польщі.

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про уродов и людей