RAMASWAMY PLEDGES TO END H-1B PROGRAM, PUSHES FOR MERIT-BASED IMMIGRATION
Indian-American Republican presidential contender, Vivek Ramaswamy, has criticized the H-1B visa program, labeling it as a form of "indentured servitude." Ramaswamy has promised to overhaul the lottery-based system and introduce a merit-based admission process if he emerges victorious in the 2024 presidential race.
The H-1B visa, highly sought after by Indian IT professionals, permits US companies to hire foreign workers for specialized roles. Despite having used the H-1B visa program 29 times for his former company, Roivant Sciences, between 2018 and 2023, Ramaswamy believes the system is flawed, as it fails to attract meritocratic immigrants who can make skills-based contributions to the country.
Responding to questions about the apparent contradiction between his policy stance and past business practices, Ramaswamy's press secretary, Tricia McLaughlin, asserted that a policymaker's responsibility is to address what is best for the country as a whole, emphasizing the need to reform the broken system.
Ramaswamy has also expressed intentions to use military force to secure the US border and deport US-born children of undocumented immigrants. His stance on H-1B visas draws parallels to the 2016 Trump campaign, which initially took a hardline stance on these workers before later adopting a more moderate approach. During his presidency, Donald Trump temporarily suspended new work visas and restricted the employment of hundreds of thousands of foreign workers as part of efforts to reduce immigration to the US.
TRUMP DODGES QUESTIONS ABOUT CAPITOL RIOT IN NBC INTERVIEW
In a recent interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," former President Donald Trump repeatedly avoided answering questions regarding his actions during the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. When asked about how he spent that day and whether he watched the events unfold on television, Trump deferred his response, stating that he would reveal the details "at an appropriate time."
Trump's former aides have previously claimed that he watched the riot from a room adjacent to the Oval Office, even rewinding and reviewing certain parts. During the interview, conducted at Trump's New Jersey golf club, moderator Kristen Welker pressed him about his public silence during the violence, to which Trump asserted that he had made "beautiful statements" on the day of the attack.
Furthermore, Trump hinted that he might consider pardoning some of the individuals charged for their involvement in the riot, which has led to over 1,000 federal crime charges. When asked if he was concerned about the possibility of going to jail, Trump responded, "No, I don't really. I don't even think about it. I'm built a little differently, I guess." This NBC appearance marked Trump's first broadcast network interview since leaving office.
KYIV DRONES TARGETED CRIMEA, MOSCOW, OIL DEPOT, SAYS RUSSIA
Russia said it had thwarted a coordinated Ukrainian attack on Crimea early on Sunday, while drones also targeted Moscow, disrupting air traffic in the capital, and caused a fire at an oil depot in the southwest of the country that was later extinguished. Russian air defence systems destroyed at least 6 drones targeting Crimea, the defence ministry said. In the Moscow region, two drones were destroyed. At least 30 flights were delayed and 6 cancelled at Moscow’s major airports.
RUSSIA’S ALLY ARMENIA LEANS WEST, EYES ICC DESPITE PUTIN WARRANT
Armenia discussed with Russia its plans to come under the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction, Russian media said on Sunday, a move strongly opposed by Moscow after the court issued an arrest warrant for President Putin. Relations between the traditional allies have frayed badly since Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine. Yerevan has said it was moving to come under the court’s jurisdiction, prompting Moscow to warn of “serious consequences” if it did.
KIM WRAPS UP RUSSIA TRIP, GETS DRONES AS GIFT
MOSCOW: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un left Russia on Sunday after a rare six-day visit that appeared to solidify his country’s ties with President Vladimir Putin — fanning Western fears that Pyongyang could provide Moscow with weapons for its assault on Ukraine. He was presented with drones and a bulletproof vest as gifts.
SPY-VS-SPY WAR HEATS UP BETWEEN US & CHINA
Washington : In February, a Chinese spy balloon's unexpected drift across the US exposed a startling development: Chinese President Xi Jinping's anger at senior military generals who kept him in the dark about its course change. This incident sheds light on the escalating espionage contest between the US and China.
Both nations are vying to decipher their rival's leaders' intentions and assess their military and technological capabilities, making this spy rivalry more extensive than the Cold War-era competition between the US and the Soviets.
The US views its AI leadership as a counterbalance to China's numerical strength, while China seeks to harness AI for military superiority and intelligence gathering through personal connections, using platforms like LinkedIn for recruitment. Federal agencies in the US have discreetly expanded counter-espionage efforts in response.
Taiwan remains a significant point of contention. In the absence of comprehensive intelligence, both countries focus on gathering data about each other's military capabilities. For instance, the US has increased aerial surveillance of Chinese military bases in this pursuit.
NEW PAKISTAN CJ QAZI FAEZ ISA SWORN IN AMID CHALLENGES
Islamabad : Dr. Arif Alvi, the President of Pakistan, administered the oath of office to Qazi Faez Isa, the nation's 29th chief justice. The ceremony was attended by top government and military officials, including caretaker PM Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar and Army chief Gen Asim Munir.
Chief Justice Isa's appointment comes after facing allegations of misconduct and non-disclosure of foreign assets, primarily family properties in the UK, since 2019. Despite being a top court judge since 2014, he had not handled constitutional cases for three years due to a presidential reference against him, seen as an attempt to silence him following his 2017 verdict in the Faizabad dharna case.
His tenure as Chief Justice will be brief, as he is set to retire on October 25, 2024. Among his significant challenges will be addressing controversies surrounding general elections and unifying the Supreme Court while restoring its credibility, as it has faced criticism for perceived bench formations with like-minded judges influencing constitutional matters.
MILITARY LEADERS OF MALI, NIGER AND BURKINA FASO SIGN MUTUAL DEFENCE PACT
Military leaders from Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger officially signed the Liptako-Gourma Charter, forming the Alliance of Sahel States (AES). This pact, aimed at strengthening collective defense and mutual assistance, is a response to the escalating jihadist threat in the Liptako-Gourma region where these nations share borders.
Mali's junta leader, Assimi Goita, announced the agreement on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), emphasizing the goal of establishing a framework for collaborative military and economic efforts. Mali's Foreign Minister, Abdoulaye Diop, stressed that their primary focus is combating terrorism within their borders.
Jihadist insurgencies that began in northern Mali in 2012 have since spread to Niger and Burkina Faso in 2015. Additionally, all three countries have experienced coups since 2020. In response to a coup in Niger, the West African regional bloc ECOWAS threatened military intervention, sparking strong reactions from Mali and Burkina Faso, who warned against such action, considering it a "declaration of war."
The charter solidifies their commitment to mutual assistance, including military support, in the event of an attack on any of the signatory nations. It also underscores their resolve to prevent and resolve armed rebellions, strengthening regional security cooperation.
TAIWAN DETECTS 28 CHINESE WARPLANES AROUND ISLAND
TAIPEI: China flew 28 warplanes around Taiwan on Sunday, with most crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait for unspecified "long- range" missions. Taiwan's Defence Ministry said 20 of the aircraft detected since Sunday morning crossed the median line of the waterway separating Taiwan and mainland China.
EU CHIEF PROMISES A PLAN OF ACTION AS MIGRANTS FLOCK TO ITALIAN ISLAND
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Italy's Lampedusa island, announcing a 10-point EU action plan to aid Italy as it faces a significant influx of migrants.
This year, Italy has experienced nearly 126,000 migrant arrivals, nearly double the figure from 2022. Lampedusa, a small island, has seen over 7,000 arrivals in a single week, surpassing its permanent population.
Von der Leyen, accompanied by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, faced local protests during her visit. Meloni assured demonstrators of their commitment to addressing the situation.
The action plan aims to support Italy in addressing the migrant crisis, emphasizing the collective European challenge of irregular migration.
The plan includes deploying Frontex, the EU's border agency, to identify and repatriate ineligible asylum seekers, enhance surveillance of migrant boats, and combat human smuggling. Von der Leyen expressed confidence in gaining support from EU leaders for this initiative.
It also involves expediting equipment supply to Tunisia's coastguard and accelerating fund transfers to curb migration. Von der Leyen pledged to expand legal channels for migrants and emphasized addressing migration's root causes.
The plan underscores the EU's commitment to assisting Italy in managing the migrant influx.
BALOCHISTAN SHUTS DOWN ILLEGAL IRANIAN FUEL PUMPS
Karachi : Pakistan's Balochistan province, facing economic challenges and inflation, has closed nearly 500 petrol stations illegally selling cheap Iranian fuel, negatively impacting local refineries. Iranian fuel is significantly more affordable than domestically produced fuel.
Balochistan's caretaker information minister, Jan Achakzai, revealed that these petrol stations were involved in smuggling Iranian petrol and diesel to the public. A nationwide operation is underway to curb the supply of Iranian fuel products across the country.
This crackdown coincides with Pakistan's caretaker government announcing another increase in petrol and diesel prices, setting them at a historic high, exceeding Rs 330 per litre. The price hikes were mandated by the IMF, which provided Pakistan with a $3 billion support package this year to stabilize its fragile economy.
Despite the rising domestic fuel prices, Iranian fuel is illicitly sold in Pakistan for approximately 220-230 rupees per litre. Smugglers transport it via land border crossings in Balochistan with Iran before distributing it to major cities like Karachi.