Big win for international students in US, as Donald Trump administration rescinds F1 visa rule
The Trump administration has agreed to rescind its July 6 rule, which temporarily bared international students from staying in the United States unless they attend at least one in-person course, a federal district court judge said on Tuesday.
The U-turn by the Trump administration comes following a nationwide outrage against its July 6 order and a series of lawsuits filed by a large number of educational institutions, led by the prestigious Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), seeking a permanent injunctive relief to bar the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from enforcing the federal guidelines barring international students attending colleges and universities offering only online courses from staying in the country.
As many as 17 US states and the District of Columbia, along with top American IT companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, joined MIT and Harvard in the US District Court in Massachusetts against the DHS and the ICE in seeking an injunction to stop the entire rule from going into effect.
"I have been informed by the parties that they have come to a resolution. They will return to the status quo," Judge Allison Burroughs, the federal district judge in Boston, said in a surprise statement at the top of the hearing on the lawsuit.
The announcement comes as a big relief to international students, including those from India. In the 2018-2019 academic year, there were over 10 lakh international students in the US. According to a recent report of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), 1,94,556 Indian students were enrolled in various academic institutions in the US in January.
Judge Burroughs said the policy would apply nationwide.
"Both the policy directive and the frequently asked questions would not be enforced anyplace," she said, referring to the agreement between the US government and MIT and Harvard.
Congressman Brad Scneider said this is a great win for international students, colleges and common sense.
"The Administration needs to give us a plan to tackle our public health crisis - it can't be recklessly creating rules one day and rescinding them the next," he said in a tweet.
Last week, more than 136 Congressmen and 30 senators wrote to the Trump administration to rescind its order on international students.
"This is a major victory for the students, organisers and institutions of higher education in the #MA7 and all across the country that stood up and fought back against this racist and xenophobic rule," said Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.
"Taking online classes shouldn't force international students out of our country," Congressman Mikie Sherrill said in a tweet.
In its July 6 notice, the ICE had said all student visa holders, whose university curricula were only offered online, "must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status".
"If not, they may face immigration consequences, including but not limited to the initiation of removal proceedings," it had said.
In their lawsuit, the 17 states and the District of Columbia said for many international students, remote learning in the countries and communities they come from would impede their studies or be simply impossible.
The lawsuit alleged that the new rule imposes a significant economic harm by precluding thousands of international students from coming to and residing in the US and finding employment in fields such as science, technology, biotechnology, healthcare, business and finance, and education, and contributing to the overall economy.
In a separate filing, companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft, along with the US Chamber of Commerce and other IT advocacy groups, asserted that the July 6 ICE directive will disrupt their recruiting plans, making it impossible to bring on board international students that businesses, including the amici, had planned to hire, and disturb the recruiting process on which the firms have relied on to identify and train their future employees.
The July 6 directive will make it impossible for a large number of international students to participate in the CPT and OPT programmes. The US will "nonsensically be sending...these graduates away to work for our global competitors and compete against us...instead of capitalising on the investment in their education here in the US", they said.
China raises flood response to second-highest level
BEIJING: China's Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) on Sunday raised the emergency response for flood control to Level II, the second-highest in the response system, as heavy downpours continued to lash vast stretches of the country.
Since July 4, alert-triggering floods have been observed in 212 rivers nationwide, among which 19 topped previous water level records, according to the MWR.
The water level in Taihu Lake, the country's second-largest freshwater lake, has risen above the alert level for 15 consecutive days, said the MWR.
China's State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters also lifted the emergency response to Level II later Sunday, following its last upgrade from Level IV to Level III on Tuesday.
The announcement came after Poyang Lake, China's largest freshwater lake located in the eastern province of Jiangxi, saw its water level at the Hukou station nearing the guaranteed level of 22.5 meters at 4 p.m. on Sunday, indicating an extraordinary emergency of flood control.
Due to severe flooding, the headquarters, the Ministry of Emergency Management, and the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration on Sunday allocated disaster-relief supplies like tents, blankets, and fold-up beds to the provinces of Jiangxi, Hunan, and Guizhou.
By noon on Sunday, floods in 27 provincial regions, including Jiangxi, Anhui, and Hubei had resulted in the deaths or disappearance of 141 people, and 2.25 million emergency relocations this year. Around 28,000 homes were flattened and 3.53 million hectares of crops affected, with the direct economic loss at 82.23 billion yuan (about 11.76 billion U.S. dollars).
China has a four-tier flood control emergency response system, with Level I representing the most severe.
Afghan government to build civilian airport in eastern Nangarhar province
The Afghan government has decided to build a civilian airport outside Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, a senior official of the country's Civil Aviation Qasim Wafizada said.
According to the official, the new airport would be constructed on 3,500 acres of land in Kozkunar area at a cost of 40 million U.S. dollars within two years.
The ground breaking ceremony of the airport was held with the participation of central and provincial government officials on Friday and the ranking officials laid the foundation stone of the planned airport.
Nangarhar province has already a military airport in Jalalabad city but also used by civilian planes when necessary especially during Hajj flights to take the intending Hajji to Mecca.
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China stresses flood control, advancing water conservancy projects
BEIJING: China will make all-out efforts in flood control and disaster relief work while advancing the construction of major water conservancy projects, according to an executive meeting of the State Council Wednesday.
The meeting, presided over by Premier Li Keqiang, stressed that people's lives are the top priority, and decided to increase material and funding support to help local authorities relocate disaster-hit residents. The meeting also decided to repair damaged projects, and restore production to the parts of the country most severely affected by floods.
Since the beginning of this year, accumulated precipitation in China has been higher and more intensive than the same period in normal years, causing severe damage to parts of the country, according to the meeting.
The meeting urged readying needed flood-prevention materials, strengthening patrolling of reservoirs and dikes, as well as rolling out personnel evacuation plans.
It also studied the arrangements for 150 major water conservancy projects, calling for advancing construction and enhancing the capabilities of preventing floods, droughts, and other disasters.
Efforts should be made to deepen reforms on investment and financing mechanisms, expand equity and bond financing, and quicken the construction of water conservancy projects by leveraging market-oriented reforms.
To secure hundreds of millions of market entities, supportive fiscal, financial, and social insurance policies which have already been unveiled, should be well implemented. Efforts should also be made to establish a market-oriented, law-based, and internationalized business environment.
The meeting underlined strengthening services for market entities, providing more convenience for employment and entrepreneurship, and optimizing the environment for foreign investment and foreign trade.
Chinese FM makes suggestions on bringing China-U.S. relations back to right track
BEIJING: Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday made three suggestions on bringing China-U.S. relations back to the right track when addressing the China-U.S. Think Tanks Media Forum.
"First, activate and open all the channels of dialogue," Wang said.
Only communication can dispel falsehoods, and only dialogue can prevent miscalculation, Wang said, reaffirming that China's door to dialogue remains open.
As long as the U.S. side is ready, China can restore and restart the dialogue mechanisms at all levels and in all areas. All issues can be put on the table. All differences can be addressed properly through dialogue, Wang said.
In the meantime, as long as the United States does not set restrictions, China is also ready to promote exchanges and interactions between government departments, localities and social sectors, so as to enable the two peoples to know and understand more of each other, Wang said.
"Second, review and agree on the lists of interactions," Wang said.
Given the inter-connectedness and complexity of issues, it is useful for the two sides to sit down together, run over them and draw up lists of cooperation areas, dialogues, and issues that need proper management, Wang said.
"Third, focus and cooperate on COVID-19 response," Wang said.
Photo taken on April 27, 2020 shows boxes containing face masks donated by China's Fujian Province in Oregon, the United States. Governor of the U.S. state of Oregon Kate Brown on Tuesday expressed her heartfelt thanks to China for its donation of 50,000 medical face masks from Oregon's sister province Fujian.
Photo taken on April 27, 2020 shows boxes containing face masks donated by China's Fujian Province in Oregon, the United States. Governor of the U.S. state of Oregon Kate Brown on Tuesday expressed her heartfelt thanks to China for its donation of 50,000 medical face masks from Oregon's sister province Fujian. Photo: Xinhua
Noting that in the face of the virus, cooperation should be the first-order priority, Wang said China is ready to share with the United States information about COVID-19 prevention and containment as well as response experience.
"We are also ready to have closer exchanges with the U.S. on diagnostics and therapeutics, vaccines, and economic recovery," Wang said.
The United States, for its part, should immediately stop its acts of politicization and stigmatization, Wang said, adding that it should work with China to promote a global response to save more lives and live up to the international responsibility as two major countries.
China-U.S. relations is faced with the most severe challenge since the establishment of diplomatic ties, Wang said, adding that some in the United States with ideological biases are resorting to all possible means to portray China as an adversary, and even an enemy.
China and the United States should not seek to remodel each other. Instead, they must work together to find ways to peaceful coexistence of different systems and civilizations, he said.
"China does not replicate any model of other countries, nor does it export its own to others," Wang said.
Wang stressed that China never intends to challenge or replace the United States, or have full confrontation with it.
China has maintained a highly stable and consistent policy toward the United States, and is willing to grow the bilateral relations with goodwill and sincerity. However, to achieve that goal, the two sides must work in the same direction, respect international law and international rules, and engage in equal dialogue and consultation, he said.
"China has every right to uphold its sovereignty, security and development interests, safeguard the achievements that the Chinese people have made through hard work, and reject any bullying and injustice imposed on it," he said.
Recalling past decades since the establishment of diplomatic relations, Wang said China and the United States have made the best use of their complementarity, and their interests have become highly integrated.
The two sides should build on past achievements, keep pace with the times, and stay committed to dialogue and cooperation, Wang said.
Market update: Sensex jumps; Infosys, HCL Tech, UltraTech Cement, Maruti were among the laggards
Equity benchmark Sensex advanced over 100 points in early trade on Wednesday led by gains in HDFC twins, Reliance Industries and ITC amid sustained foreign fund inflow.
The 30-share index was trading 101.08 points, or 0.28 per cent, higher at 36,775.60. The NSE Nifty was up 34.60 points, or 0.32 per cent, at 10,834.25.
IndusInd Bank was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rallying around 4 per cent, followed by SBI, Tata Steel, Bajaj Auto, ITC, HDFC duo and Reliance Industries. On the other hand, Infosys, HCL Tech, UltraTech Cement, Maruti and Axis Bank were among the laggards.
In the previous session, the BSE barometer ended 187.24 points or 0.51 per cent higher at 36,674.52; while the NSE Nifty settled with 36 points or 0.33 per cent gains at 10,799.65.
Foreign institutional investors were net buyers in the capital market on Tuesday, purchasing equities worth Rs 829.90 crore, provisional exchange data showed.
According to traders, stock-specific gains and sustained foreign fund inflow buoyed domestic investor sentiment. However, weakness in global equities amid rising number of COVID-19 cases capped the gains, they said.
The number of cases around the world linked to the disease has crossed 1.17 crore and the death toll has topped 5.43 lakh.
In India, the number of infections spiked to 7.42 lakh and the death toll rose to 20,642.
Bourses in Shanghai and Hong Kong were trading with gains, while those in Tokyo and Seoul were in the red.
Stock exchanges on Wall Street ended on a negative note in overnight session. Meanwhile, international oil benchmark Brent crude futures fell 0.16 per cent to USD 43.01 per barrel.
Donald 'Munna Bhai' Trump: Niece claims POTUS paid proxy to take an exam
In a hilarious scene in Rajkumar Hirani's 2003 film Munna Bhai M.B.B.S., Sanjay Dutt (Munna) forces a doctor to take the medical entrance exam for him while he enjoys playing carrom with the doctor's father. In the movie, Munna does so to fulfil his father's dream of him to become a doctor.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump did a 'Munna Bhai' even before the film released. Reportedly, Trump paid a proxy to take a standardized college entrance exam for him in high school.
Mary Trump, Donald Trump's niece in a tell-all book scheduled to be published next week, revealed that the President paid someone to take the SAT, an entrance exam used by most U.S. universities, in his place.
In the book titled 'Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man', Mary wrote, "The high score the proxy earned for him helped the young Mr. Trump to later gain admittance as an undergraduate to the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton business school," reported the The New York Times, citing a manuscript of the book.
Meanwhile, responding to the allegations, White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday, told reporters at the White House that it was a family matter, reported Reuters. "It's a book of falsehoods and that's about it," she added.