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Russian-American Science Conference Held in US Despite War in Ukraine

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 15:07
The Russian-American Science Association's annual conference was held November 18-20 in Los Angeles, California. The event had a different tone this year because of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Angelina Bagdasaryan has the story, narrated by Anna Rice. Camera: Vazgen Varzhabetian

After declining early in the COVID-19 outbreak, immigrant naturalizations in the U.S. are rising again

The Pew Research Center - December 1, 2022 - 15:02

An estimated 940,000 immigrants became U.S. citizens during the 2022 fiscal year. That annual total would be the third-highest on record.

The post After declining early in the COVID-19 outbreak, immigrant naturalizations in the U.S. are rising again appeared first on Pew Research Center.

Poll: Majority of Americans Support Continued Aid for Ukraine

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 15:01
A majority of Americans (57%) believe the United States should continue sending military and financial aid to the people of Ukraine in their fight against Russian aggression, according to a new poll released Thursday. In an annual survey by the Ronald Reagan Institute, only a third (33%) say they believe the United States cannot afford to spend more on the conflict and risk further provoking Russia. Eighty-two percent of respondents perceive Russia as an enemy, a survey high since its inception in 2018 and up significantly from last year, when about two-thirds (65%) of respondents viewed Russia as an enemy. Relatedly, 76% of Americans consider Ukraine an ally, a significant increase from 2021 when less than half (49%) of respondents felt that way. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24. Russia launched a series of missile attacks and sent up to 200,000 Russian soldiers into Ukraine in an effort to depose the government and control Ukrainian territory. Russian forces quickly captured territory in the coming days but failed to take Kyiv. Since then, Ukrainian forces have dealt Russian forces a series of humiliating retreats in the north and south. Consistent with previous Ronald Reagan Institute surveys, a majority (60%) of Americans have a favorable view of NATO, as the alliance has strengthened to support Ukraine and bolster defenses on its eastern flank with Russia. China and Taiwan war perceived as looming threats Americans are increasingly worried about the threat that China poses, with three-quarters (75%) saying that they view China as an enemy, up from nearly two-thirds (65%) in 2021 and slightly more than half (55%) in 2018. A plurality of those surveyed view China as the country that poses the greatest threat to the United States, and 70% share concern about the threat of China invading Taiwan in the next five years. China views Taiwan as its own territory, and Chinese President Xi Jinping said in October Beijing will never renounce the right to use force to control Taiwan while striving for a peaceful resolution. Taiwan responded in October that it will not back down on its sovereignty or compromise on freedom and democracy. While there is bipartisan support to deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan with increased U.S. military presence near Taiwan and more arms sales to the island, a majority of those surveyed (54%) say the U.S. lacks a “clear strategy” for managing its relationship with China. And should China invade Taiwan, 43% say they would support committing U.S. ground troops to the democratic island’s defense, while about a third (36%) say they would oppose sending troops. Public confidence Public confidence in the U.S. military has eroded in the U.S., with only 48% of this survey’s respondents saying they have “a great deal” of trust and confidence in the military, compared to 70% of respondents in 2018. That is due to a variety of factors, according to the survey, including a belief by the majority of respondents that military leadership is overly politicized and more than half (60%) of respondents blaming the performance and competence of presidents as commanders-in-chief.

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 15:00
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NASA Takes $4B Warmup Lap Around Moon 

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 14:44
NASA’s uber-expensive test dummy moon mission exceeds expectations. Plus, a lunar flashlight’s frosty mission, and a state visit to NASA headquarters. VOA’s Arash Arabasadi brings us The Week in Space.

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 14:00
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December 1, 2022

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 13:53
A look at the best news photos from around the world.

FLASHPOINT UKRAINE: Spanish bombs, more from NATO and African security

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 13:26
Letter bombs are being found across Spain at locations with Ukrainian connections. We’ll hear from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and we’ll learn how the war in Ukraine is affecting Nigeria’s security.

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 13:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

South Africa's President Could Face Impeachment Inquiry

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 12:53
A report by an independent panel appointed by South Africa's parliament contends that President Cyril Ramaphosa violated his oath of office, which could lead to an impeachment inquiry. The panel finds the president has to answer for the theft of at least a half-million dollars from his game farm that may not have been declared in his taxes. Following the release of the report, Ramaphosa maintained his innocence and said in a statement he categorically denies violating his oath in any way. The panel's report stated that while it did not have all the answers, nor the authority to pursue them, it recommended an impeachment inquiry should proceed to get to the truth. It noted there are many questions left unanswered, including where the money stolen from the farm had come from and the exact amount in question. A former spy boss, Arthur Fraser, first brought the issue to light, claiming that between $4 million and $8 million was stolen from a sofa in the president's farmhouse where it was hidden. Fraser claimed the money was collected by Ramaphosa's adviser Bejani Chauke for both him and the president during several trips he made to Middle Eastern and African countries, and it was not declared to authorities. Ramaphosa, meanwhile, said it was from the sale of 20 buffalo to a Sudanese businessman known as Mr. Hazim who paid $580,000 for them on Christmas Day in 2019. The president said he was not at the farm at the time of the sale. Ramaphosa said he was in Addis Ababa when he heard about the robbery on February 10, 2020. There are conflicting reports on whether the actual robbery took place on February 9 or February 10. The panel questioned why no other information about the businessman was made available. And it noted that News24 journalist Kyle Cowan reported that despite "extensive searches, utilizing various databases and online tools, News24 was not able to immediately verify Hazim's identity.'' One of the political parties that submitted evidence to the panel against the president, the Economic Freedom Fighters, or EFF, welcomed the report.    "There was no purchase of any buffalos, and this is exposed by the fact that two years later, those buffalos are still chilling at Ramaphosa's Phala Phala farm," said Leigh-Ann Mathys, an EFF member. This is something the panel raised, along with the fact the theft of the money from the game farm was not reported to the police but instead was handled by the head of Presidential Protection Services Major-General Wally Rhoode. It is alleged that once found, several suspects were paid almost $9,000 each to keep quiet about the money. There are also allegations the suspects were interrogated and tortured. Political analyst Sanusha Naidoo of the Institute for Global Dialogue said Ramaphosa was hoping to be reelected at the African National Congress, or ANC, elective conference later this month, aiming for a second term as the country's president.  "Going into 2022 elective conference, he was favored. And so, what happens to the elective? What are we going to do? The impact that this is going to have in the short term on our investment ratings, on our rand," Naidoo said. By late afternoon Thursday, the rand had weakened substantially and was trading at about R17.73 to the U.S. dollar. Naidoo said this scandal is a massive blow to the country, as the president had campaigned globally for investments in South Africa.  "One of the things that has been critical in his gaining these kinds of investment pledges is the road map that he was going to put forward in terms of how this was going to be utilized in a productive, transparent and coherent way in order to stimulate the growth," Naidoo said. Another analyst, Professor Bheki Mngomezulu, also weighed in: "The reality of the matter is that his political image has been dented. So, under normal circumstances one would expect him to voluntarily exit the stage as it were, in terms of the elective conference because even if he were to win, that will compromise not just himself as a politician but the ANC as an organization." As for the quality of the report, constitutional law expert and University of Cape Town professor Pierre de Vos said while it's not perfect, it has merit.  "Regardless of the technicalities, the report makes quite a convincing argument that there is a case to answer," de Vos said. The South African Revenue Service is also looking into the allegations.   

Kharkiv in Ukrainian Hands but Still in Grave Danger

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 12:48
Forty kilometers from the Russian border, the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv has taken the brunt of a Russian barrage that started on February 24th. Once in ruins, the city of Kharkiv has been rebuilding since Ukrainian forces retook the Kharkiv region two months ago, and it now serves as a symbol of Ukrainians’ will to survive. For VOA, Anna Chernikova, in Kyiv, has the story. Stephen Boitano contributed to this report from Kharkiv. Camera: Stephen Boitano; Eugene Shynkar. Contributor:  Stephen Boitano in Kharkiv

Guterres Praises Ethiopia Cease-Fire

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 12:29
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised Ethiopia’s Tigray cease-fire during his first visit to the country since the war broke out two years ago. He said the U.N. is upscaling aid to meet “dramatic humanitarian needs." Speaking alongside African Union Commissioner Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Thursday, Guterres called on the international community to support Ethiopia following the signing of the cease-fire with Tigray last month. Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance says it will cost $20 billion to rebuild damage done to infrastructure during the two-year conflict. But donors, including the United States and the European Union, are yet to resume support that was cut out of concern for human rights abuses. “We appeal to the international community to support Ethiopia in its development," Guterres said. "There is not a better way to consolidate peace than developing the country, creating the conditions for the people to see the peace dividends, people to see how peace contributes to improvement of the living conditions of the citizens of the country. And we will be in the first line of advocating for international support for the development of Ethiopia in this crucial moment of the history of the country." While in Addis Ababa, Guterres held a joint meeting with the AU’s Faki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Guterres said the conflict in Ethiopia had resulted in “more causalities” than the war in Ukraine and that implementation of the cease-fire was vital. “This is an opportunity that Ethiopia cannot miss, that Africa cannot miss, and that the world cannot miss. There were more casualties in the conflict in Ethiopia than in the conflict in Ukraine," Guterres said. "People sometimes forget that this has been a dramatic conflict. And what was achieved thanks to the mediation of the African Union is remarkable. And it is the obligation of everybody, everywhere in the world to do everything possible to support the African Union and to support the parties, to make sure that we reach a final peace settlement.” Under the terms of an implementation accord, the AU was due to deploy a monitoring team to Tigray by November 22. But diplomatic sources told VOA the team is yet to reach the northern region. The Tigray rebels have agreed to disarm their fighting force alongside the withdrawal of Eritrean and other nonfederal forces from Tigray, but diplomats say Eritrean troops are still present. Aid has started to reach the region, where 5.4 million people need humanitarian support. Disarmament was due to be completed within 30 days of the cease-fire that was agreed on November 2. Ethiopia’s government said Thursday that a committee tasked with organizing the disarming of Tigray’s fighters had convened in the city of Shire, adding that the committee’s work had been “delayed due to technical factors.”

India Dismisses Chinese Objections to India-US Military Drills Near Border

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 12:26
India has dismissed Beijing’s objections to U.S.-India military exercises being held close to India’s disputed border with China. The drills between Indian and U.S. soldiers began in mid-November and are due to conclude Friday. Part of annual exercises held by the two sides, this year’s maneuvers are taking place in the Himalayan mountains in Auli in Uttarakhand state, about 100 kilometers from the border area, known as the Line of Actual Control.    China said on Wednesday that the joint exercises “violated the spirit of relevant agreements” between Beijing and New Delhi. "It does not serve the mutual trust between China and India. China has expressed concerns to the Indian side over the military exercise,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing in Beijing.  Responding to China’s comments, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said Thursday that “India exercises with whomsoever it chooses to, and it does not give a veto to third countries on this issue.”  Bagchi said the exercises had nothing to do with the agreements China had referred to. “But since these were raised, the Chinese side needs to reflect upon and think upon its own breach of these agreements,” according to Bagchi.   Tensions between India and China have escalated since a bloody border clash in 2020 killed 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers in the Ladakh area. As a result, both sides continue to deploy tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along the disputed border and are rapidly building infrastructure in the Himalayan mountains.    Following several rounds of talks between the military commanders of the two countries, soldiers have pulled back from some so-called “friction points” along the border where they were posted close to each other, but heavy deployments continue at other points that are of strategic significance to both sides.   The U.S. Department of Defense said in a report this week that China “warned” U.S. officials not to interfere in its relations with India following the border skirmishes. “The PRC (People’s Republic of China) seeks to prevent border tensions from causing India to partner more closely with the United States,” stated the report on "Military and Security Developments involving China" that was submitted to U.S. lawmakers.   This year’s drills in Auli were the 18th edition of joint exercises known as “Yudh Abhyas” or “War Practice” that are held alternately in the U.S. and India with the aim of exchanging best practices, tactics and techniques. Last year’s exercises were held in Alaska.   Before the drills commenced, India’s Ministry of Defense said the exercises will focus on surveillance, mountain-warfare skills, casualty evacuation and combat medical aid in adverse terrain and climatic conditions.    The exercises are part of deepening military cooperation between New Delhi and Washington, driven by mutual concerns over Beijing’s growing assertiveness. India is part of the Quad alliance, with the U.S, Australia and Japan, that aims to counter Beijing’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific.    India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyan Jaishankar, has reiterated on several forums that New Delhi’s relationship with Beijing cannot be normal without peace in the border areas.

Zambians to Sue Mining Giant Anglo American for Lead Poisoning

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 12:04
A court in South Africa last week ruled that U.N. experts can intervene in a class action lawsuit against mining giant Anglo American over lead poisoning in Zambia. South African and British lawyers filed the lawsuit on behalf of about 140,000 Zambian children and women whose health was allegedly damaged by a colonial-era lead mine. Anglo American has denied wrongdoing at the Kabwe mine, which it was involved in from the 1920s to 1970s. It’s a busy morning in Chowa township in Kabwe, which on the surface looks like an ordinary Zambian town. But rights experts and lawyers say Kabwe is one of the areas in the world most polluted by lead poisoning. Rachel Kutayaya said her three boys, aged 12, 14, and 16, were sickened by lead but she’s unemployed and can’t afford treatment. Kutayaya struggles to feed her kids with the $20 she makes per week selling tomatoes. She said her children’s IQs have been affected. In school, Kutayaya says, they do not focus well, so their performance is poor. She says one of them often has stomach problems and blames lead poisoning. Britain-based rights law firm Leigh Day estimates 140,000 Zambian children and women of childbearing age were sickened by the colonial-era lead mine in Kabwe. They’ve been seeking a class action lawsuit since 2020 for lead poisoning at the mine against mining giant Anglo American in a court in South Africa. The lawsuit was filed in South Africa because Anglo American has offices there and Zambian law does not allow class action lawsuits. The lawsuit alleges the victims’ lead poisoning was due to the mining corporation’s pollution at the mine from the 1920s to 1970s and is seeking reparations. Anglo American declined to do an interview with VOA but in an emailed statement repeated denial of responsibility for any lead poisoning. Spokesperson Sibusiso Tshabala said Anglo American was just a shareholder until 1974 in the mine, which was operated by Zambia Broken Hill Development Company, who were responsible for employee health. The Zambian government and various entities ran the mine from 1974 until it was closed in 1994.   Tshabala called the lawsuit opportunistic and implied a commercial motive in singling out Anglo American. Kabwe community representative Barry Mulimba said they simply want justice. “What we are looking for is the families that are affected to be compensated and probably the company that started mining here in Kabwe to provide remedial measures so that the areas where this lead poisoning is coming from could be treated,” he said. The South African court ruled on November 25 that UN experts could submit their findings at a court hearing in January that will decide if the class action lawsuit can go ahead. Lawyers for Leigh Day declined an interview request but welcomed the judgment in a joint statement emailed to VOA. It said, “corporate legal accountability and access to justice for the Kabwe lead poisoning victims has been outstanding for generations and is of paramount importance.” Anglo American had already agreed to interventions by Amnesty International and the Southern Africa Litigation Center. Human Rights Watch submitted the application to allow U.N. experts to intervene in the case. The rights group says soil in the townships surrounding the Kabwe mine has concentrations of lead more than 150 times higher than the recommended international standard. Since 2019, the Zambian government supports a $60 million World Bank-funded project to provide medical help to the affected communities. Gideon Ndalama is the National Coordinator for the Zambia Mining Environmental Remediation and Improvement project. He said more than 10,000 women and children have been treated so far. “We procured lead test kits to support the interventions as well as lead diagnostic kits that are being used in four health centers in Kabwe,” said Ndalama. A March report by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment report listed Kabwe as one of the world’s 50 most polluted places on earth. It said 95% of children in Kabwe suffered elevated blood lead levels caused by lead mining and smelting, which can cause impair brain development and cause blindness, paralysis, and death.    

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 12:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

El Salvador Journalists Sue NSO Group in US Over Alleged Pegasus Surveillance

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 11:34
Salvadoran digital newspaper El Faro's employees filed a lawsuit in a U.S. federal court on Wednesday against NSO Group, alleging the Israeli firm's controversial Pegasus software was used to spy on them. The lawsuit was filed in California by 13 El Faro journalists and two administrative staff, represented by lawyers from the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. Pegasus was used to breach the phones of at least 22 people associated with El Faro, including the plaintiffs, compromising their communications and data, according to the complaint — a copy of which was released by the Knight Institute. “Their devices were accessed remotely and surreptitiously, their communications and activities monitored, and their personal data accessed and stolen,” it alleges. “The attacks have compromised Plaintiffs' safety as well as the safety of their colleagues, sources, and family members.” These alleged activities violated the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), according to the lawsuit. The Pegasus software infiltrates mobile phones to extract data or to activate a camera or microphone to spy on their owners. NSO Group claims it is only sold to government agencies to target criminals and terrorists, with the green light of Israeli authorities. The company has been criticized by global rights groups for privacy violations around the world and is facing lawsuits from major tech firms such as Apple and Microsoft. U.S. authorities put NSO Group on a blacklist last year, with the Commerce Department saying the firm's tools “enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression.” The El Salvador government has denied it was behind the surveillance of El Faro staff. “Unfortunately, we have had to look for a court in another country, because there is no possibility that in El Salvador we can obtain justice,” El Faro's director, Carlos Dada, said in a statement. “One of the main demands of this lawsuit is that the federal court requires NSO Group to identify, return and delete all information obtained through these attacks,” El Faro said.  “The court is also requested to prohibit NSO Group from re-executing Pegasus against the members of this media and that the same federal court issue an order against NSO Group so that it can disclose the client who was behind the espionage.”

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 11:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

Silence on China Protests, but Analysts Say Africa Watching

Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 10:55
With China seeing the biggest anti-government protests since 1989, analysts say African governments are watching closely, mainly with economic concerns.  For the past few days, the eyes of the world have been on the outbreak of mass protests in cities across China, with demonstrators furious at continued strict COVID-19 lockdowns as part of President Xi Jinping's unpopular "zero-COVID" policy.  The protests have also taken on a political angle, leading to comparisons to Tiananmen Square, with protesters being heard shouting: "Step down, Xi Jinping! Step down, Communist Party!" The U.S. and German governments have said they support the right of peaceful protest in China, but from Africa there has been silence. Still, African governments — while they are unlikely to either denounce or support the protests — will be paying close attention because China is the continent's largest trade partner, said Cobus van Staden, cofounder of the China Global South Project, which examines China's engagement with Africa.   "In relation to the African responses to it, I think they'll probably be muted, and they'll mostly be concentrating on how the impact is, of the disruptions on ... kind of on commodity trade, for example," he said.     Paul Nantulya, a researcher at the U.S. Defense Department's Africa Center for Strategic Studies, said there are "high stakes" on the African side in terms of the zero-COVID policy and its effects on supply chains.  "There is a concern, obviously on that African side, that some of this trade might be disrupted if these lockdowns continue," he said.  As for democratic South Africa saying anything in support of the protesters, Steven Gruzd, from the South African Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg, said Pretoria was more likely to take a neutral stance similar to its position on the conflict in Ukraine.  "South Africa's not going to publicly call out China, South Africa's going to keep quiet I think and not interfere," he said. "I certainly don't think they're going to give support to the protests, this is after all their BRICS ally and their largest trading partner."  Contacted for comment on the protests by VOA, two spokesmen for South Africa's Department of International Relations and Cooperation said there was no reaction from the department.  In neighboring Zimbabwe, a longtime ally of Beijing, the spokesman for the ruling ZANU-PF party, Chris Mutsvangwa said, "As a matter of policy ZANU-PF does not interfere in the internal affairs of other United Nations member countries."  Only in Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, the sole major African state that supports Taiwan and does not have relations with Beijing, Percy Simelane, the spokesman for the king's office, said of the Chinese protests, "We believe in freedom of expression for all nations and societies."  Aside from the lack of government reaction, media coverage of the protests on the continent has also been muted. Outlets across the region are mostly picking up news articles from the international wires, with very few local op-eds on the nature of the dissent.  However, Kenyan and South African newspapers this week both ran original copy on how their local currencies and economies stood to be affected by the unrest. They focused on fuel prices and exports.  There has been silence from the Chinese state media too, but that might change if the protests continue, Nantulya said.  "One can expect that over the next few weeks China is really going to up the ante. It does have a sizeable media infrastructure and architecture on the continent of Africa, and we can be sure that it will make maximum use of the capability to regain the narrative, to control the narrative, and essentially to discredit the protests and whichever African sympathies might be out there," Nantulya said.  For now, Chinese police are out in force and officials have warned of a "crackdown," but there are also indications the government may be looking at softening COVID restrictions. 

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Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 10:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

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Voice of America’s immigration news - December 1, 2022 - 09:00
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