iStock/Andrei StanescuBY: QUINN OWEN(WASHINGTON) — The federal government agency that handles United States asylum requests, processes visa applications and grants citizenship is preparing to furlough most of its employees while would-be citizens remain stuck waiting to get naturalized ahead of the November election.Originally planned for the beginning of August, the furloughs were bumped back to the end of the month after Democrats and independent immigration experts questioned whether such action was necessary amid to the coronavirus pandemic.“I think it would be an extraordinary travesty to basically kick to the curb all of these civil servants and basically withhold their salaries in the middle of an economic crisis,” said Doug Rand, a former White House policy advisor during the Obama administration, who now specializes in immigration legal services. “Not to mention bringing the immigration system to a grinding halt when there’s absolutely no need to do so.”Joseph Edlow, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ deputy director, told lawmakers at the end of July that the agency was able to catch up on its backlog of 100,000 pending naturalization ceremonies delayed by the pandemic. However, the average number of monthly naturalizations still trails far below prior years by tens of thousands, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security.“All USCIS operations, including naturalization ceremonies, will be impacted by a furlough,” spokesperson Joe Sowers said in a statement. “At this time, we do not have the number of naturalization ceremonies that will be impacted. In the event of a furlough, we will continue to conduct naturalization ceremonies, but we anticipate it will be on a more limited basis.”An analysis from the Migration Policy Institute found budget problems at USCIS — which is almost entirely funded by the immigration application fees it collects — were apparent well before the pandemic and likely the result of President Donald Trump’s push for “extreme vetting” of applicants.As USCIS reduced its year-over-year surplus goals, the agency’s carry-over balance dropped into negative territory in 2019, according to data compiled by MPI.The citizenship agency is now asking for $1.2 billion from Congress, which was expected to be addressed in an additional coronavirus relief package before negotiations between Democrats and the White House stalled out. The request accounts for about a quarter of the agency’s $4.8 billion operating budget for 2020.“Based on the latest estimates of surplus funding that will carry over into fiscal year 2021, I believe that the agency can and should delay their furlough of 13,000 dedicated public servants until September 30, 2020,” said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who serves as the vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations.A group of Democrats wrote to Senate leadership last month asking for the funding to be provided on the condition of increased transparency and assurance that the money would not be used for immigration enforcement or anti-fraud measures that replicate the work of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.In a move that would have immigrants footing the bill, USCIS also plans to increase the cost of the naturalization application by more than 80%, according to the finalized version of the fee structure first proposed last year. The plan includes eliminating an $85 service fee for some applicants.Starting in October, the U.S. will also become part of just a handful of countries — including Iran, Australia and Fiji — to charge for asylum with the addition of a $50 application fee. The fee that immigrants, including asylum seekers, pay for work permits will also increase by 34%.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Suffolk County police homicide squad detectives are investigating an early-morning shooting Saturday in North Amityville that killed one person and injured two others, police said.Police responded to 66 Coolidge Avenue at 2 a.m. after receiving 911 calls and a Shot Spotter notification alerting authorities to gunfire at that location, police said. It appeared a fight broke out and then multiple shots were fired, police said.Three men were transported to local hospitals for gunshot wounds and a fourth was hospitalized for injuries he sustained during the fight. One of the gunshot victims was pronounced dead at the hospital, police said. The other injuries are considered non-life-threatening, police said.Police identified the man who was killed as Louis Wilson, 44, of Kansas City, Missouri. There was no information about the shooter.Police said the investigation is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call the Homicide Squad at 631-852-6392 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.
By Greg Soukup EAGLE, Neb. (May 3) – After starting mi-dpack, Dylan Smith finished first in Saturday’s Kaplan University IMCA Modified feature at Eagle Raceway. Smith passed Clint Homan for the lead with three laps to go and won pulling away.“I started 12th and to be honest, the bottom line looked ominous in the beginning but I tried it. When I got up to seventh or eighth, everyone else was running the bottom so I moved up top,” Smith said. “Heck, my right rear was bouncing off the wall in turn two! Then toward the end we caught a lapped car and that’s what helped me pass for the win.” Clint Benson worked his way to the front of the Mud in America IMCA Eagle Motorsports RaceSaver Sprint Car field, passing Shayle Bade on lap 14 and leading to the checkers. “This was a different track tonight but I was confident. We’re really starting the year off good,” he said from victory lane. “I could run where I wanted, but I decided to run high in three and four because nobody else was going there.” Benji Legg snared the lead with just two laps to go and won the NAPA IMCA Northern SportMod main. Adam Armstrong topped the Valentino’s IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock feature. Winner of the Sam’s Club IMCA Sport Compact feature was Matt Moyer.
23 July 2004Energy experts say South Africa has moderate hydroelectric potential, and that the establishment of small hydroelectric projects around the country could help provide a sustainable future energy supply.The US department of energy estimates that there are 6 000 to 8 000 potential sites in South Africa suitable for small hydro-utilisation below 100 megawatts, with the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape offering the best prospects.The largest hydroelectric power plant in South Africa is the 1 000 megawatt Drakensberg Pumped-Storage Facility, part of a larger scheme of water management that brings water from the Tugela River into the Vaal watershed. The country’s second-largest plant is situated on the Palmiet River outside Cape Town.South Africa’s electricity parastatal, Eskom, currently buys power from Mozambique’s Cahora Basa plant, jointly owned by the Mozambican and Portuguese governments and located in Mozambique’s western Tete province.Eskom is the Cahora Basa’s biggest customer. Power bought from Cahora Basa supplements Eskom’s largely coal-driven electricity supply, which is resold to numerous countries across the African contintent.Not flowing so smoothlyDelivering her department’s budget speech in June, Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka told Parliament that the government would continue to explore the benefits of hydroelectric power – despite international warnings about its downside.Mlambo-Ngcuka singled out central Africa’s Inga project, on the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The project is expected to produce 40 000 megawatts once fully operational. Eskom is a major investor in the project.According to Business Day, another hydroelectric project is being planned for Uganda, where a proposed US$580-million dam on the Nile could eventually generate 200 megawatts of power for the region.Industrialised countriess suggested at a recent conference in Germany that hydroelectric power was not a renewable energy source under the guidelines agreed at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg.Mlambo-Ngcuka argued, however, that the potential environmental challenges facing hydro-electric power were being “over-problematised”, and that Africans could not afford to alienate any source of energy, as this would retard development and industrialisation on the continent.“The view from Africa is that if Africa is going to have security and access to energy, we cannot alienate any source of energy, otherwise we might as well close shop on development and industrialisation of any sort”, Mlambo-Ngcuka told Parliament.She said environmental issues would be closely scrutinised before a decision was reached on South Africa’s nuclear or hydroelectric power options.SouthAfrica.info reporter
The Iron Ladies of Liberia takes a behind the scenes look at Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her Cabinet’s challenging first year in power. (Image: Why democracy?) Tamara O’ReillyA film, which has South African-born Don Edkins as its executive producer, won a host of international awards in June 2008 for its ability to generate debate on the concept of democracy.Iron Ladies of Liberia is one of a series of 10 documentaries commissioned by Cape Town-based non-profit production company Steps International under their Why Democracy? project, which saw a select group of filmmakers from around the world explore the meaning of democracy and how it is viewed in different communities and scenarios.The production takes a behind-the-scenes look at Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was sworn into power in 2006. Sirleaf is the country’s first freely elected head of state and the first female president in Africa. She faces the onerous task of uniting a country that – prior to her election – was racked by nearly two decades of civil war, addressing its debt and reviving its economy. Since coming to power Sirleaf has appointed several women in her Cabinet and this documentary follows her and her administrative team during their first year in office as they tried to prevent further conflict.On 10 June 2008 the film was named the best political documentary and best documentary at the Banff World Television Awards in Canada, which honours the best television programmes from around the world. At the One World Media Awards in London held two days later, on 12 June, Iron Ladies of Liberia was presented with the prestigious Millennium Development Goals Award (MDG). This honour is for broadcast, print or new media coverage addressing the progress or challenges in meeting the 2015 MDG set out by the United Nations, which covers issues such as health, education and poverty.At the end of June 2008 the Why Democracy? project was awarded the Golden Link European Broadcasting Union (EBU) Documentary Co-production Award in La Rochelle, France by the European Broadcasting Union. The EBU is the largest association of national broadcasters in the world.No lofty idealsThe Why Democracy? project was launched in Amsterdam in 2004 at the International Documentary Festival. The organisers called for proposals from documentary and filmmakers around the world and more than 700 entries were received.In October 2007 the 10 selected hour-long documentaries were televised by 42 broadcasters in 180 countries to more than 300-million people. Along with screening the documentary, each broadcaster agreed to air other programmes, debates and discussions to tie in with democracy theme.The Why Democracy? project has produced some exceptional, challenging and unconventional work. According to the Why Democracy website, “The films are unconventional documentaries in two senses: firstly democracy, an idea, is their primary focus above any specific country or event. Secondly, they are not overtly prescriptive. These are not films by experts, about experts, telling us what ‘the situation is’ in Iraq, or Chile, or South Africa or Iran. These films hope to illuminate for anyone, in any country, a gnarly idea called democracy. Democracy as it exists today, not as we wish it to be.”Further recognitionOther documentaries in the series have also won awards, most notably Taxi to the Dark Side, which won Best Documentary Feature Award at the 2008 Academy Awards and the Best Documentary Film Award at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.Edkins also produced the Southern African series on truth and reconciliation, Landscape of Memory, and the multi-award-winning documentary project, Steps for the Future, a collection of 38 films about Southern Africa in the time of HIV and Aids.Links:Bannf World Television Awards Why Democracy? United Nations Millennium Development Goals
Bridget Hilton-BarberI love those moments, even in the now not-so-new South Africa, when I picture the architect of apartheid, that evil old pig-dog Hendrik Verwoerd, turning in his grave. I had a particularly good one the other day. I was at the Mpumalanga provincial legislature canteen, having lunch with a colleague.Vusi gave himself an enthusiastic helping of mala mogodu (tripe). “I love that they serve traditional food here,” he said. “My wife is gonna be so jealous when she’s what I had for lunch!”The cow’s stomach lining proved too much for a semi-vegetarian mlungu like me, so I went for pap, morogo, mashed sweet pumpkin and a dollop of zingy Indo-African chilli sauce on the side. What a far cry from the days of metaphorical melktert at Tuynhuys, I thought to myself happily. Here in Mpumalanga, there’s not one whiff of nationalist or colonial heritage. Not in the canteen, not in the ethos and most certainly not in the architecture.The officially entitled Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature and Government Complex is one of the most beautiful and modern buildings I have seen. It’s a bold civic expression and a bold defiance of all things Edwardian, Victorian, Calvinist, Baroque or Tudor. There are no broekie-lace verandas, no ornate cornices, no frilly wrought-iron embellishments. There are no sloping Alpine roofs, no Greco-Roman columns or Spanish plaster.The legislature is a sexy, modern and climate-appropriate building. And thankfully, unlike much of Nelspruit and adjoining White River, there is absolutely no trace of Tuscany either. Best of all, it was designed by an Afrikaner-owned firm called Meyer Pienaar Architects. Turn, Verwoerd, turn!Coming in at an impressive 90 000 square metres, the legislature complex was the first major civic building to be commissioned in the new post-1994 democratic South Africa. It is set along the confluence of the Crocodile and Nels River, overlooking the Nelspruit Botanical Gardens. A series of office buildings hug the tree line along the river in a gentle curve, and the central feature of the complex is the giant parabolic dome, measuring 28 metres in diameter, that houses the provincial parliament.Visually it is an anchor for a place of gathering, says the architects’ website. It is a beehive, a basket, an African leitmotif. There are earth elements, reed elements and glass elements. It uses natural energy to represent not only the spirit of renewal but a culture that cares for the planet and its future.In the weeks leading up to South Africa’s fourth democratic elections that may be pushing it a bit, but for me the point is that the legislature is a wonderful functional and aesthetic space to inhabit. It’s got great décor, good karma, and the sound of water provides a soothing backdrop to the thrum of public servant chatter and the squeal of expensive car tyres. The spaces flow, people actually have to walk around, instead of taking lifts up and down high-rise hideousities.What few people know is that the legislature also houses one of the most comprehensive contemporary collections of South African art in the country, including works by William Kentridge, Esther Mahlangu, Noria Mabasa and Jackson Hlungwane. The nearby House of Traditional Leaders also has a fascinating permanent exhibition. I can just imagine Verwoerd being led humbly through the electronic security gates to view the brilliant art of the natives, gasp!From inside the premier’s office, there are pleasant views across a big granite koppie, so characteristic of the Nelspruit landscape, with the downtown urban skyline in the distance, dominated by the aggressive Absa Square. In front of the legislature complex are lawns studded with acacia trees, fever trees and the odd sprawled out worker in overalls.Sadly this is where it all ends. Next to the Mpumalanga legislature is what they call in urban planning terms, “a commercial satellite node”, which in this case is the Riverside Mall, the Emnotweni Sun and Casino and an American style value mart. It’s fabulously convenient of course for our conspicuously consumer-driven civil servants, but a horrible exercise in ersatz architecture.Bridget Hilton-Barber is a well-known travel writer based in Limpopo province. She has worked as editor of South African Airways’ inflight magazine Sawubona, debut editor of Lowveld Living, travel correspondent for Radio 702 and travel editor of FairLady magazine. She is the author of seven books.
10 May 2010 The 2010 Fifa World Cup™ will forever change the world’s perception of South Africa, President Jacob Zuma said at the opening of the Tourism Indaba trade show in Durban on Saturday. “It is in our hands to make this the best World Cup ever,” Zuma said, adding that South Africa stood to benefit from hosting the event World Cup for decades to come. “The World Cup has changed the face of this country. Not only has it revatilised our economy, but it has given impetus to infrastructural development and job creation,” Zuma said. “It is estimated that over 3.6-million additional job opportunities will be created during the tournament,” Zuma said, while the country’s public transport network had been completely revitalised, with over US$10.9-billion having been spent on upgrading road infrastructure and the taxi recapitalisation programme. “The highways between the OR Tambo International Airport and Pretoria, and Johannesburg and Pretoria, are among the many roads that have been improved. The bus rapid transit system has been rolled out in most cities. The Rea Vaya bus service between Johannesburg and Soweto now transports 20 000 people a day.” By 2020, Zuma said, more than 85 percent of any South African city’s population will be living within a kilometre or closer to an integrated rapid public transport network feeder or corridor. The World Cup had “placed us on the high road,” Zuma said, while giving the country an unprecedented destination marketing opportunity. “Much has been invested in the six years leading up to kick-off next month, and investments in the tourism industry, infrastructure, airports, information technology and stadiums leaves South Africa poised to maximise growth in numerous areas going forward. “After the tournament South Africa will have more skilled people working in tourism and better tourism infrastructure to grow arrivals and foreign direct spend into the economy,” Zuma said. “The World Cup will also deliver about 350 000 more foreign visitors this year that will, in the medium to long term, result in greater repeat visits and word-of-mouth recommendations for the destination. “South Africa’s 10 World Cup-ready football stadiums give South Africa truly magnificent, capable and world-class sports venues. As important, they give the world a capable destination for global sporting and cultural events such as the world cups of other sporting codes, the Olympic Games and music concerts. “Other World Cup legacy bequests include broadcasting and information technology infrastructure that puts the nation at the forefront of the digital age in terms of digital broadcasting, high-definition television and broadband internet accessibility,” Zuma said. Indaba delegates were treated to an opening ceremony that included performances by TKZee, by South Africa’’ world-famous Drakensberg Boys Choir, and performances of the Diski Dance that has ignited the imagination of the world and the passion of the country for the 2010 football championship. “South Africa is ready for the World Cup,” Zuma said. “We look forward to welcoming the world, to hosting the world and to celebrating with the rest of the continent the first World Cup here in Africa.” Source: South African Tourism
3 January 2012 The price of petrol is set to drop by between five and six cents a litre at midnight on Tuesday.The price of the 93 grade petrol is decreasing by six cents.One litre of 95 unleaded will cost five cents less.Diesel would also be dropped by 20 cents per litre.Peter Noke of the South Africa Fuel Retailers Association said it was a great way to start the New Year.“We have a reduction in petrol of between 5 and 6 cents and on diesel between 20 and 21 cents a litre,” Noke said.Sapa
An elated England skipper Andrew Strauss credited his bowlers for the massive 196-run win over India in the opening Test here, saying that it was a perfect performance against a formidable batting line-up.”Over the two innings, it was as close to perfect bowling performance as it has been in the last two-three years which is saying a lot as we have bowled quite consistently well in this period,” stated Strauss after England dismissed India for 286 and 261 in the two innings at Lord’s.”It was an outstanding performance by the whole attack. they showed if you work hard with consistent line and length you could have results on any track.” Strauss picked double centurion Kevin Pietersen for special praise.”Our first innings was a magnificent performance. Kevin was responsible for it ? it was one of the best innings I have seen. He was smart enough against seamers, was prepared to graft and when the opportunity presented itself, he attacked. Others batted around him.”It was critical that we survived the tricky first day and on the second day, after the second half it got easier. Jonathan Trott as well on the first morning of the Test gave a good example of his temperament and technique,” he said. Strauss claimed that this win has demonstrated that if the present team plays to its potential, it can beat any side.”To be a number one side, you need to grab your opportunity and we did so very well today. We demonstrated when we play well, we are good enough.” Strauss was also full of praise for Stuart Broad.advertisement”His position has lately been called to question. It was a big Test of his character and Stuart showed immense quality. He bowled very well, his 70 runs were critical to the outcome, he showed his class. It was a tiny reminder to everyone what a great talent he is.”Man of the match Kevin Pietersen, who set the platform with his monumental knock, lauded the English bowlers. “They were calm throughout. We have an analysis of our bowlers and the percentage (of good deliveries) was among their best,” Pietersen said.Strauss also made a mention of Chris Tremlett whose wicket of Dhoni in the last session was the final straw for India. “He (Tremlett) is the real deal. He definitely adds to our bowling.” India missed Zaheer Khan for most part of the match and due to a hamstring strain and both Pietersen and Strauss were quick to acknowledge that his absence cost the visitors dearly.”Zaheer’s absence was a critical loss to them. The other bowlers had to work really hard. Ishant bowled nearly 65 overs and he would be tired in the second Test,” said Pietersen. “It’s never easy to lose your frontline bowler but then these are the cards you are dealt with sometimes,” remarked Strauss.Tendulkar, who was down with viral infection, was also far from his usual self in the middle. “Sachin was trying to salvage a draw for India. He tried his hardest. But Anderson was good enough to get him out lbw. You never want to drop Sachin. Thankfully, Anderson saved me blushes.”Tendulkar also got a reprieve when umpire Billy Bowden ruled in his favour against a delivery that TV replays showed would have hit the stumps. Since lbws are not up for review under the DRS in this series, England were left frustrated.”We have always wanted to play with full DRS but since you play with the rules you start a series, you take the umpires’ decision on the chin, whether good or bad.”Even as the interest among fans seems to have taken the rivalry between the two sides to a different level, Pietersen was not willing to put it at par with the Ashes.”There is real hatred between England and Australia, that cricket is totally different. For the public though, the interest is similar,” he said.With inputs from PTI
zoom South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has received an Approval in Principle (AIP) for its floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) hull design from classification society ABS.ABS and HHI worked together with the objective of developing a technically feasible and class compliant FPSO hull design, using the latest technologies while maintaining high safety standards.The AIP demonstrates the design substantially complies with Class and Regulatory requirements, giving regulatory agencies and other key stakeholders confidence in the design, according to ABS.The design basis is storing 2 mbbl of crude oil in the barge-shaped hull, applying mainly shipbuilding standards, and combining offshore production facility features, such as a 25-year lifetime without drydocking, and structural reinforcement for topside structure installation.“The newbuilding conversion FPSO hull design can be built for about half the cost as compared to a conventional FPSO hull,” Jae-Eul Kim, HHI Senior Vice President, Shipbuilding Division, said.“In the current difficult energy market, the competitive ready-to-convert FPSO hull, with AIP from ABS, offers a practical approach to floating production units—enabling stakeholders to take confident financial investment decisions,” Kim concluded.