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Trump’s revised travel ban takes effect from Thursday

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Washington, June 29: A “watered down”, revised version of US President Donald Trump’s fiercely litigated travel ban will be finally put into effect from Thursday evening, the media reported.

The White House on Wednesday set new guidelines for visa applicants from six Muslim-majority countries — Libya, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan — and all refugees, requiring them to have a “close” family or business tie to the US.

The new guidelines were issued in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling partially restoring Trump’s controversial travel ban.

According to the new guidelines, sent to overseas posts on Wednesday, visa applicants must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling in the US, CNN quoted a senior administration official as saying.

If the applicant cannot sufficiently establish such a close relationship, he or she will be banned for 90 days if one is from the six Muslim-majority countries, and 120 days if one is a refugee from any country.

The guidelines have not yet been posted by the State Department or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and could be subject to change, the official said.

Advocacy groups such as Amnesty International plan to send researchers to US airports, such as the Washington Dulles International Airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport on Thursday, to monitor developments and observe implementation of the ban in case any disputes arise.

DHS spokesperson David Lapan confirmed to CNN on Wednesday that the President’s revised executive order “would not affect persons who arrive at our ports of entry with legitimate travel documents”.

Before the executive order was halted by the courts, the categories of travellers who were excluded from the travel ban comprised US citizens; legal permanent residents or green card holders; current visa holders; dual nationals; and foreign nationals with “bona fide” family, educational or business ties to the US.

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US shutdown over, new deadline looms

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Washington, Jan 23: US President Donald Trump has signed a temporary funding bill ending a nearly three-day government shutdown, capping off deadlock and reinstating funds for a fortnight, a senior official said.

The federal government is expected to be back in business on Tuesday. Thousands of federal employees who had been placed on temporary, unpaid leave since Saturday, breathed a sigh of relief, the BBC reported.

Late on Monday, the Democratic leadership agreed to back the bill after accepting promises from Republicans for a debate later “on the future of young illegal immigrants”. This stopgap funding will expire on February 8.

The House and the Senate voted Monday to end the government shutdown, extending funding for three weeks, following a deal reached between Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The House passed the continuing resolution 266-159, with 36 more yes votes than the four-week resolution they passed last week, after the Senate earlier passed the bill by an 81-18 margin.

However, key issues remained unresolved, the CNN said.

This so-called continuing resolution keeps the government funded until the second week of February in the hope that the Congress could reach a longer-term budget agreement in the meantime.

Trump took a swipe at the Democrats as he signed the bill: “I am pleased that the Democrats in the Congress have come to their senses. We will make a long-term deal on immigration if, and only if, it is good for our country.”

McConnell said his party had “come to an arrangement” to negotiate on their calls for an immigration deal. Democrats want protections from deportation for so-called Dreamers — more than 700,000 young immigrants brought to the US as children.

But Republicans had insisted no agreement was possible while the federal government services were closed.

This was the fourth temporary measure since October 2017, because Capitol Hill cannot agree on a longer-term budget, the media said.

The Democrats would still want something tangible on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) but it was problematic because it could run into the February 8 funding deadline, Republican Senator Jeffry Lane Flake said.

Democrats voiced scepticism and some liberal groups were infuriated by the agreement to reopen the government.

Possible Democratic 2020 presidential candidates in the Senate – Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris – all voted against Monday’s bill.

On Twitter, “Democrats CAVED” was trending on Monday evening.

Schumer accused Trump of failing to help reach a deal. “The great deal-making President sat on the sidelines,” he said.

But many have expressed dissatisfaction with Schumer’s handling of the shutdown, which began on midnight on Friday.

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Modi meets CEOs at WEF, IMF reaffirms India’s growth story

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The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi with the President of the Swiss Confederation, Mr. Alain Berset, in Davos.

Davos, Jan 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday held a round table meeting with the CEOs of top global companies before his keynote address at the plenary session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) here on Tuesday morning.

India also got a thumbs up from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday, which reaffirmed that India’s economy is projected to grow by 7.4 per cent in the next fiscal year.

“Narrating India’s growth story and presenting exciting opportunities for global business in India at #Davos, PM @narendramodi hosted a roundtable meeting with CEOs of top global companies,” Ministry of External Affairs said in a tweet.

Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra, who had also participated at the meet, tweeted: “Let me add my compliments to you all. You did us proud with your world-beating organizational skills. Every global CEO was floored by the personal touches in your hospitality. I am proud to be on the board of Invest India.”

“In addition to listening to PM keynote address at the plenary session, participating and speaking in several sessions I look forward to joining the Yoga classes on the Alps early morning ! India’s soft power is on full display at World Economic Forum,” Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog tweeted.

The IMF reaffirmed that India’s economy is projected to grow by 7.4 per cent in the next fiscal year, regaining the rank of the world’s fastest-growing large economy as China slows down.

Like India’s improving economic performance, the global economy was also on the uptick, estimated to have grown by 3.7 per cent last year and forecast to grow this year and the next by 3.9 per cent, according to the Fund’s World Economic Outlook Update.

At the release of the Update in Davos, IMF head Christine Lagarde said that for the world economy, “all signs point to a further strengthening both this year and next,” but cautioned that “complacency would be a mistake.”

Earlier on Monday, Modi held a bilateral meeting with Swiss President Alain Berset who greeted the prime minister with a warm handshake in this town in the Swiss Alps before leading the Indian leader to the meeting.

“On reaching Davos, held talks with the President of the Swiss Confederation, Alain Berset. We reviewed the scope of our bilateral cooperation and discussed ways to deepen it even further,” Modi tweeted.

This is Modi’s second visit to Switzerland in nearly two years after his visit in June 2016.

Modi is the first Prime Minister from India to participate in a forum meeting in two decades after the then Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda in 1997.

He will interact with 120 members of the International Business Council, which is a part of the WEF.

Modi, in the course of his 24-hour visit to Davos, is also scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Sweden Prime Minister Stefan Lofven on Tuesday.

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S.Koreans burn Kim Jong-un’s photo over North’s participation at Olympics

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(PC- Associated Press)

Seoul, Jan 22: Demonstrators on Monday burned a photo of the North Korean leader during a rally in Seoul against North Korea’s participation in the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang in South Korea.

The rally, at which the North Korean flag was also burned, was led by the far-right Korean Patriots Party in front of Seoul’s central train station, according to Yonhap news agency, reports Efe.

The protesters chose the train station because a North Korean delegation visiting South Korea to coordinate the North’s participation in the Games which begin on February 9 plans to arrive at the station from the eastern city of Gangneung.

Strong security measures have been put in place ahead of the group’s visit.

The activists read a statement in which they denounced that the PyeongChang Winter Olympics were turning into “Kim Jong-un’s Pyongyang Olympics” that they claim legitimise its nuclear weapons programme, before setting North’s national flag and so-called unification flag on fire.

As well as agreeing on North Korea’s participation at the PyeongChang Games, the two countries, which have been technically at war for more than 65 years, also decided to form a joint women’s ice hockey team and agreed on a joint march at the opening ceremony with the unification flag.

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