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Spanish city becomes first in country go back into draconian-style lockdown - metro

Spanish city becomes first in country go back into draconian-style lockdown

As English travellers were given the green light to go to the country without quarantining, several holiday destinations including nearby Barcelona have made face masks compulsory.
metro - 3 hours ago
WHO reports over 230,000 new infections of Covid-19, marking a new record daily rise - rt

WHO reports over 230,000 new infections of Covid-19, marking a new record daily rise

The World Health Organization has registered a record increase in coronavirus cases worldwide. The confirmed-cases number has jumped by nearly a quarter million over the past 24 hours.
rt - 3 hours ago
Covid-19 origin: Ex-Trump adviser Bannon claims West has ‘defectors’ from Wuhan & people will be ‘shocked’ at their revelations - rt

Covid-19 origin: Ex-Trump adviser Bannon claims West has ‘defectors’ from Wuhan & people will be ‘shocked’ at their revelations

Donald Trump’s ex-adviser Steve Bannon has doubled down on the man-made nature of the coronavirus, claiming that Chinese “virus experts” have defected to the West and are now cooperating with intelligence agencies.
rt - 3 hours ago
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda slightly ahead of his rival in tight runoff – exit polls - rt

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda slightly ahead of his rival in tight runoff – exit polls

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda appears to have just about managed to snatch victory from his opponent, Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, in an incredibly tight race, with exit polls showing he’s just one percent ahead.
rt - 4 hours ago
German officials furious after meatpacker behind Covid-19 outbreak that placed 600,000 people on lockdown requests salary refund - rt

German officials furious after meatpacker behind Covid-19 outbreak that placed 600,000 people on lockdown requests salary refund

A German meat processing factory at the center of a local Covid-19 outbreak that put two neighboring districts on quarantine has requested government support. The move angered German officials, including the agriculture minister.
rt - 4 hours ago
UK government pledges £700m to manage Britain’s borders after Brexit - channel 4

UK government pledges £700m to manage Britain’s borders after Brexit

The Government has announced it's spending more than £700m on new infrastructure, staff and technology to manage Britain's borders when the UK leaves the European union at the end of the year. 
channel 4 - 4 hours ago
Thousands protest in the streets of Tel Aviv over the government’s response to the pandemic - channel 4

Thousands protest in the streets of Tel Aviv over the government’s response to the pandemic

The Israeli Prime Minister has promised financial help for people whose livelihoods have been devastated by coronavirus.
channel 4 - 5 hours ago
Donald Trump wears a face mask for the first time in public – as Florida confirms 15,000 new cases of coronavirus - channel 4

Donald Trump wears a face mask for the first time in public – as Florida confirms 15,000 new cases of coronavirus

Florida has confirmed more than 15,000 new cases of coronavirus - the state's biggest daily increase since the pandemic began.
channel 4 - 5 hours ago
Deaths reported in border clash between Armenia and Azerbaijan, sparking fears of new escalation - rt

Deaths reported in border clash between Armenia and Azerbaijan, sparking fears of new escalation

At least two soldiers have reportedly been killed in a border clash between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is the latest flareup in a decades-old conflict over a disputed piece of land.
rt - 8 hours ago
‘Very distressed’: Pope Francis laments conversion of Hagia Sophia into mosque - rt

‘Very distressed’: Pope Francis laments conversion of Hagia Sophia into mosque

Pope Francis has added his voice to those objecting to the museum status of Istanbul’s famous Hagia Sophia having been revoked. Originally a Byzantine Christian church, the Turkish government has turned it back into a mosque.
rt - 8 hours ago
Several injured & missing after explosion, massive fire at biofuel plant in China (VIDEOS) - rt

Several injured & missing after explosion, massive fire at biofuel plant in China (VIDEOS)

Multiple fire crews have been deployed to tackle a huge blaze raging at a biofuel complex in China. At least two people were injured during the incident.
rt - 8 hours ago
Iran investigators blame misaligned military radar & inept, trigger-happy operator for downing Ukrainian passenger plane - rt

Iran investigators blame misaligned military radar & inept, trigger-happy operator for downing Ukrainian passenger plane

A chain of errors made by the Iranian military resulted in the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in January, investigators have said. The tragic incident began with an air defense unit misaligning its radar by 107 degrees.
rt - 11 hours ago
What is the Battle of the Boyne and when did it take place? - metro

What is the Battle of the Boyne and when did it take place?

Today is also known as 'Orange Day' or simply 'the Twelfth.'
metro - 13 hours ago
Stomach-churning turbulence leaves passengers screaming & praying on flight from Riyadh (VIDEO) - rt

Stomach-churning turbulence leaves passengers screaming & praying on flight from Riyadh (VIDEO)

Passengers on an IndiGo flight from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia were terrified when their plane experienced severe turbulence moments before landing in Srinagar, the largest city in Jammu & Kashmir.
rt - 13 hours ago
‘We are hygiene pros!’ Sex workers demand brothels reopen in Hamburg’s red light district (VIDEO) - rt

‘We are hygiene pros!’ Sex workers demand brothels reopen in Hamburg’s red light district (VIDEO)

Sex workers held a protest urging authorities to end the lockdown for brothels in the northern German city of Hamburg. Brothels have remained closed for more than three months due to Covid-19 restrictions.
rt - 15 hours ago
‘US military supply convoy’ attacked & torched in Iraq (VIDEO) - rt

‘US military supply convoy’ attacked & torched in Iraq (VIDEO)

Militants on pickup trucks attacked a logistics supply convoy headed to a US military base in Iraq, forcing it to stop, got the local contractors out of the vehicles, and torched the trucks, according to local media reports.
rt - 21 hours ago
UN Security Council adopts Syria cross-border aid resolution, but refuses to acknowledge humanitarian costs of sanctions - rt

UN Security Council adopts Syria cross-border aid resolution, but refuses to acknowledge humanitarian costs of sanctions

The UN Security Council has finally reached a compromise, agreeing to keep one checkpoint in militant-controlled Idlib open for aid deliveries from Turkey. After vetoing two initial drafts, Russia and China abstained from voting.
rt - 22 hours ago
Okinawans ‘shocked’ & demand transparency after Covid-19 outbreaks at US bases increase Japanese prefecture’s case toll by 40% - rt

Okinawans ‘shocked’ & demand transparency after Covid-19 outbreaks at US bases increase Japanese prefecture’s case toll by 40%

Dozens of US troops at two bases on the Japanese island of Okinawa have been confirmed infected with the coronavirus. Local authorities demand transparency from the Pentagon, and an adequate response to the massive outbreak.
rt - 1 day ago
Tens of thousands of Israelis protest Netanyahu’s handling of Covid-19 crisis (VIDEOS) - rt

Tens of thousands of Israelis protest Netanyahu’s handling of Covid-19 crisis (VIDEOS)

Massive crowds of people have packed one of the largest squares in Tel-Aviv on Saturday to decry how Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, handled the coronavirus pandemic and its harsh economic fallout.
rt - 1 day ago
Government ‘overstated testing figures by 200,000 in height of pandemic’ - metro

Government ‘overstated testing figures by 200,000 in height of pandemic’

The government has reportedly published figures that reveal it was regularly overstating testing numbers in April and May.
metro - 1 day ago
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vice
The Trump Administration Just Furloughed 13,400 Immigration Workers

The Trump Administration Just Furloughed 13,400 Immigration Workers

vice - 1 week ago

Approximately 13,400 employees of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services woke to find out they will be furloughed beginning in August, a move that will effectively bring the U.S. immigration system grinding to a halt.

In the early hours of Monday morning, USCIS employees received emails telling them the furloughs would begin on August 3 and last for at least 30 days, with the potential to last three months or longer, according to sources within USCIS. Employees were told last week that around 73% of the agency’s entire staff would be put out of work temporarily.

USCIS confirmed the furloughs in a statement to VICE News. “Though we continue to have productive conversations with Congress, we want employees who may be furloughed to have sufficient time to prepare,” a spokesperson said. “Further, we are legally required to provide employees with advance written notice at least 30 calendar days prior to the effective date of an expected furlough.”

USCIS has nearly 20,000 employees total.

Unlike most other federal agencies, a significant amount of the USCIS’s $14.8 billion operating budget — nearly 97%, according to congressional testimony from 2019 — comes from immigration fees. The reasoning given to employees for the furlough was declining revenues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis.

“USCIS has seen a 50% drop in receipts and incoming fees starting in March and estimates that application and petition receipts will stay well below plan through the end of Fiscal Year 2020,” the USCIS spokesperson said. “This dramatic drop in revenue has made it impossible for our agency to operate at full capacity. Without additional funding from Congress before August 3, USCIS has no choice but to administratively furlough a substantial portion of our workforce.”

That isn’t the whole story, however, according to what USCIS employees told VICE News.

“What they aren’t saying is that in addition to COVID-19, Trump keeps canceling visa categories that make us money, like H-1B [visas], certain J1s, and green card applications,” an officer furloughed within USCIS told VICE News. H-1Bs alone usually cost thousands in fees, usually paid for by the employer.

Nearly 1,500 staff members out of around 2,200 were furloughed in the agency’s Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations division, with more than 600 of those workers in non-supervisory roles. (A source told VICE News that the furloughs were top-heavy so those remaining could adjudicate, or approve or deny cases.)

“We’re left with a skeleton crew, and we’re trying to keep as much adjudicative and administrative work as possible to keep the lights on,” Jennifer Higgins, the RAIO division’s associate director, told staff in a Monday morning meeting, according to sources who attended.

On May 15, USCIS requested a $1.2 billion cash infusion from Congress “to ensure we can carry out our mission of administering our nation's lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity, and protecting the American people,” the spokesperson said. USCIS would pay the money back to the Treasury via a 10% surcharge added to applications.

Higgins said during the meeting that she was hopeful that Congress would give the agency the money it requested, but that it would be a “nailbiter,” and probably wouldn’t happen until the end of July at the earliest.

Another USCIS officer who was furloughed told VICE News, however, that the underlying funding problems are long-term in nature. “Even if Congress acts,” the employee said, “six months from now, we’ll be in the same situation.”

None of the six immigration and refugee officers VICE News spoke to said that they were surprised by the news. “Stephen Miller is getting exactly what he wanted,” one officer told VICE News, referring to President Trump’s senior advisor who oversees White House immigration policy.

Judge Dana Leigh Marks, president emerita of the National Association of Immigration Judges who has been serving as an immigration judge in San Francisco for over 30 years, said “the impact on the courts will be significant.”

“There are individuals who are put in the removal proceedings who have a qualifying relative or other basis upon which they are able to regularize their status to become eligible to be granted loss of permanent resident status,” Marks said. “And yet the immigration courts cannot move forward in some of those situations without a USCIS decision on a preliminary application.”

Most USCIS employees VICE News spoke with said they felt saddened by the impact it would have on the immigration system.

”If Trump is reelected I have no doubt that the refugee program will cease to exist,” another immigration officer set to be furloughed told VICE News. “That our nation, one founded on the backs of immigrants will turn away those who are so deserving of the chance of a life of peace and prosperity. My heart aches for families longing to be reunited who may never have that chance.”

Another officer was more blunt. “I may be on furlough November 3,” the officer said, “But I’m sure as hell going to be in the voting booth.”

Cover: New U.S. citizens recite the Pledge of Allegiance during naturalization ceremony at the New York Public Library, July 3, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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