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Indian-American Amrit Singh becomes first turban-wearing Deputy Constable in Harris County in US state of Texas

In 2015, Harris County made national headlines after sheriff’s deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal fought for and won the rights to wear his turban and beard on duty.

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Houston, Jan 22 : Amrit Singh, an Indian-American law enforcement officer, has scripted history by becoming the first-ever turban-wearing Sikh to be sworn in as Deputy Constable in Harris County in the US state of Texas.

Singh, 21, will be the first in his profession to wear his articles of faith – a turban, beard, and uncut hair in the line of duty.

It was a historic day on Tuesday as Singh’s swearing-in coincided with the adoption of a new policy that allows law enforcement officers in nearly every single Harris County Constable’s Office to wear articles of their faith while in uniform. For Sikhs, that means being able to wear a turban and beard while on duty.

Singh always wanted to work as a peace officer. He spent years in law enforcement explorer programmes and five months in a police training academy.

“Growing up, I always wanted to be a deputy and my Sikh faith was also very important to me,” Singh said.

“Constable Alan Rosen was the first one to give me a callback. He opened this agency with open arms for me,” he said.

Speaking at Singh’s swearing-in ceremony, Precinct 1 Constable Rosen said the county’s eight constables supported accommodations for Sikhs to serve while adhering to their religion.

“As a man of the Jewish faith, I know how it feels to be religiously targeted and how important it is to teach inclusion, understanding and tolerance,” Rosen said, standing in front of representatives from the county’s other constable offices.

“To me, wearing a yarmulke or him wearing a turban really doesn’t impact the quality of work he’s going to do. It should have zero impact on public safety or what job we do. Are you going to care if the person showing up to your door to help save you has a turban or yarmulke? You’re not. You’re just happy they’re there to save you and keep you safe,” the officer said.

Singh will now go on to months of field training, after which he will be assigned to patrol within Precinct One.

In 2015, Harris County made national headlines after sheriff’s deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal fought for and won the rights to wear his turban and beard on duty.

At the time of the deputy’s murder last year, just a few dozen law enforcement agencies across the United States — and the US Army — had uniform policies with religious accommodations allowing Sikhs to serve in accordance with their faith.

“Legacy of Dhaliwal is not far removed, it clearly recognised and acknowledge his service and this is a gift that continues to give in his recognition and legacy,” said Bobby Singh, a Sikh community leader.

In 2009, Dhaliwal was the first Sikh to join the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and in 2015, he became the first Sikh law enforcement officer to be allowed to wear his articles of faith in uniform. He was shot and killed during a traffic stop last year.

“We honour his legacy by honouring his faith here today,” Rosen said.

In the months since Dhaliwal’s death, law enforcement agencies in California, Washington and in Texas have signalled willingness to change their policies, said Manpreet Singh of the Sikh Coalition, which advocates for religious accommodations for minority communities in public and private sectors.

“It makes me proud to be a Houstonian, and a Texan. I hope the rest of the nation follows Texas,” she said.

“I could just hope that I could be half as decent a cop as he ever was, and everything I do, I want people to know that I’m doing it following in his footsteps,” Deputy Singh said.

“He made our community proud,” said Suhel Singh, Deputy Singh’s father.

Singh’s parents were recognised at the ceremony. They told FOX 26 that they were proud to see their son pursue his passion even though it is a dangerous job.

“The way I look at it, maybe it will make me pray harder and be more praying for his protection from God,” said Singh’s mother Sukie Kaur.

Singh is now one of just two law enforcement officers in the county wearing a turban.

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United States Employment Rate will fall further: Fed

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Washington, April 16 (IANS) Economic activity “contracted sharply and abruptly” across all regions in the US as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday.

“The hardest-hit industries – because of social distancing measures and mandated closures – were leisure and hospitality, and retail aside from essential goods,” the Fed said in its latest survey on economic conditions, known as the Beige Book, based on information collected from its 12 regional reserve banks before April 6, Xinhua reported.

“All Districts reported highly uncertain outlooks among business contacts, with most expecting conditions to worsen in the next several months,” the Fed said.

The survey showed that employment declined in all districts as the COVID-19 pandemic affected firms in many sectors.

“Employment cuts were most severe in the retail and leisure and hospitality sectors, where most Districts reported widespread mandatory closures and steep falloffs in demand,” the survey said, adding severe job cuts were also widespread in the manufacturing and energy sectors.

“Contacts in several Districts noted they were cutting employment via temporary layoffs and furloughs that they hoped to reverse once business activity resumes. The near-term outlook was for more job cuts in coming months,” the survey said.

The survey noted that no district reported upward wage pressures, with most citing “general wage softening and salary cuts” except for high-demand sectors such as grocery stores.

“These trends were seen as reflecting weaker demand for many goods and services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the survey said.

The survey came after the Commerce Department reported earlier on Wednesday that US retail sales plunged in March by the most on record as the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to take a big toll on the US economy.

The US economy is expected to contract by 5.9 per cent this year, according to the World Economic Outlook (WEO) report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday.

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New York statewide COVID-19 deaths surpass 10,000

Meanwhile, indicators including the rates of ICU admissions and intubations have gone down and the three-day-average rate of hospitalization basically reached a plateau, according to the governor.

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New York, April 14 : Governor of the US state of New York Andrew Cuomo said statewide deaths from COVID-19 rose to 10,056, adding “the worst is over if we continue to be smart” in coping with the novel coronavirus.

Cuomo on Monday said at his daily briefing that a total of 671 people passed away on Sunday due to the disease, a number much lower than in the past few days, Xinhua news agency reported.

Meanwhile, indicators including the rates of ICU admissions and intubations have gone down and the three-day-average rate of hospitalization basically reached a plateau, according to the governor.

“We are controlling the spread,” said Cuomo. “I believe the worst is over if we continue to be smart. I believe we can start on the path to normalcy,” he said.

He said he would be joined by several other governors of neighbouring states later on Monday to discuss how to reopening the economy in a coordinated way.

On Twitter, the governor said that any plan to reopen society must be driven by data and experts, not opinion and politics.

He said the objective is to ease isolation and increase economic activity without increasing the infection rate.

“We will learn from the warning signs from other countries. We will take every precaution. We will work together as a region,” he added.

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US now has highest COVID-19 deaths, surpasses Italy: Johns Hopkins

A total of 20,071 people have died of the disease among 519,453 confirmed cases in the country as of 4 p.m. local time (2000 GMT) on Saturday

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Washington, April 12 : The UnS has surpassed Italy as the country with the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world as the fatalities as of Sunday reached 20,604, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Sunday morning, Italy has reported 19,648 coronavirus deaths, placing it in the second position after the US, the data published by the university’s enter for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed.

The US also accounts for the highest number of confirmed cases with 529,887. Spain, where the number of confirmed infections stands at 163,027, is a distant second, followed by Italy with 152,271 cases.

New York state, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, has recorded the most deaths in the country, 8,627, which is followed by New Jersey and Michigan with 2,183 and 1,276, respectively, the CSSE data showed.

A total of 32,001 patients in the country have recovered, it added.

US President Donald Trump’s administration, which earlier estimated that the pandemic would cause anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US, revised its projection downward this week to 60,000, reports Efe news.

Members of the White House coronavirus task force credit the more optimistic forecast to the success of the stay-at-home orders issued by 42 of the 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, covering around 316 million people.

Trump, who has repeatedly decried the economic cost of closing schools and businesses to contain the virus, said late last month that he hoped to re-open the country by Easter Sunday.

During Friday’s news briefing by the task force, Trump sought to reassure Americans that he would guided by medical experts as well as by recommendations from the “Opening Our Country Council” he plans to install next week.

“I want to get it open as soon as possible. The facts are going to determine what I do,” the president said.

“I’m going to have to make a decision, and I only hope to God that it’s the right decision. But I would say, without question, it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Trump said.

As of Sunday, the number of global coronavirus cases stood at 1,777,517, with 108,862 deaths, while 404,236 people have recovered.

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