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Trump takes first step towards H-1B visa reform

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Washington, April 19: US President Donald Trump, hammering his “America First” campaign theme, signed an executive order that he said would favour American companies for federal contracts and tighten the H-1B visa programme for foreign technical workers.

The move is a deterrent to Indian IT firms which send software engineers to the US on H-1B visas.

Trump signed the “Buy America, Hire America” order on Tuesday night during a visit to a tool factory in the US state of Wisconsin, reported CNN.

The order tasked four department heads of State, Justice, Homeland Security and Labour to propose reforms in order to ensure H-1B visas are given to the “most-skilled or highest paid” petitioners.

Additionally, it asked them to propose new rules and guidance for preventing fraud and abuse of work visas.

Trump made it clear that he doesn’t agree with fact that H-1Bs are currently doled out under a lottery system.

Right now, H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery, and that’s wrong. Instead, they should be given to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans,” the US President asserted.

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South Korean former PM Kim Jong-pil dies at 92

Before becoming Prime Minister for the first time, the retired military leader and father of two created and ran the Korean Intelligence Agency and later headed the then ruling Democratic Republican Party.

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Seoul, June 23 (IANS) Former South Korean Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil died here on Saturday at the age of 92 while being taken to a hospital.

Kim, considered among the most influential politicians in the country in previous decades, served as Prime Minister on two occasions, between 1971 and 1975, and between 1998 and 2000, Yonhap agency reported.

Born in 1926, Kim graduated from the Korea Military Academy and played an important role in the 1961 military coup led by former President Park Chung-hee, who ruled the country with an iron fist until his assassination in 1979.

Before becoming Prime Minister for the first time, the retired military leader and father of two created and ran the Korean Intelligence Agency and later headed the then ruling Democratic Republican Party.

Besides holding government posts, the influential and conservative politician served as lawmaker on nine occasions until his retirement in 2004.

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Grenade blast at Ethiopian PM rally kills 1, injures 154

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Grenade blast at Ethiopian PM rally

Addis Ababa, June 23 (IANS) A grenade blast at a crowded rally in support of Ethiopia’s new reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Saturday killed at least one person and injured over 154 others.

The explosion took place at the rally attended by thousands, shortly after Ahmed finished a speech at the capital’s Meskel Square. He soon took to public television to inform that the attack had killed people, though he did not specify the number, the BBC reported.

Ethiopia’s Health Minister Amir Aman tweeted that one person had died and 154 were injured, 10 of them critically.

Ahmed described it as an “unsuccessful attempt by forces who do not want to see Ethiopia united” and said attacks would not stop his ruling coalition from carrying out its reformist programme that seeks to increase democracy in the country.

He was whisked away immediately after the blast. According to local media, two women and a man were arrested from the scene.

Ahmed became Prime Minister after his predecessor Hailemariam Desalegn unexpectedly resigned in February. He is also the country’s first leader from the ethnic Oromo group, which has been at the centre of nearly three years of anti-government protests that have left hundreds dead.

The government has been accused of human rights violations including torture and extrajudicial killing of political dissidents.

Since taking office, Ahmed has passed a series of reforms, including unblocking hundreds of websites and TV channels. He has also said he is ready to implement in full a peace deal with Eritrea that was signed in 2000 after a two-year war.

In a Twitter post, the EU mission to Ethiopia, expressed “heartfelt condolences” to the Ethiopian people and the government for the victims of the “cowardly attack”.

The US Embassy in Addis Ababa also condemned the blast, tweeting: “Violence has no place as Ethiopia pursues meaningful political and economic reforms.”

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Nawaz Sharif’s daughter to contest from two seats in Pakistan elections

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Islamabad, June 23: Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz will contest from two seats in the upcoming general elections in the country on July 25.

Maryam has filed her candidature from the National Assembly (NA)-127 in Lahore and from Punjab assembly constituency PP-173 respectively for contesting in Pakistan general elections.

The returning officers (ROs) approved Maryam’s candidacies. However, she would be now contesting the polls from NA-127 and PP-173 seats.

Earlier, Maryam announced that she would contest elections from NA-120, which is considered as the bastion of the Sharif family and was represented by Nawaz himself, and later by his wife, Kulsoom Nawaz.

Nawaz’s brother Shahbaz Sharif formally took charge of the PML-N after an earlier court ruling banned the former premier from heading the party.Pakistan’s supreme court had in April banned former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from participating in elections for life.

Supreme Court Justice Umar Ata Bandial described the ban on Sharif as “permanent” in a judgement read to the court, clarifying the length of an earlier ruling that disqualified the former premier from office.

Sharifs and their supporters have repeatedly denied allegations of corruption, suggesting the former prime minister is the victim of a conspiracy by Pakistan’s powerful military establishment.

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