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Biden administration relaxes asylum rules, as Florida offers police to Texas & Arizona for immigration enforcement


The US Department of Justice has revoked two more Trump-era asylum rules, further loosening immigration restrictions, as states like Florida, Texas and Arizona are making moves to police the border with Mexico themselves.

Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a three-page legal opinion on Wednesday, revoking decisions by his predecessors Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions that restricted people who claimed they or their family members were victimized by gang or domestic violence from claiming asylum in the US on those grounds. 

Garland claimed that the broad language in those decisions “threatens to create confusion and discourage careful case-by-case adjudication of asylum claims.” He also argued that blocking claims of those who say their family members were threatened is “inconsistent with the decisions of several courts of appeals that have recognized families as particular social groups.”

Pro-immigration activists and lobbyists, such as the American Immigration Lawyers Association, hailed Garland’s decision. 

“This is such a critical step, both in practice to protect these people, but also symbolically in that the administration is looking carefully at the US commitment to humanitarian law and protecting those in flight from danger,” said Greg Chen, director of AILA’s government relations.

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‘Go home’: Kamala Harris greeted in Guatemala by protesters as country’s president blames US for border crisis (PHOTOS)

The official position of the Biden administration is “Do not come,” as Vice President Kamala Harris put it during her visit to Guatemala and Mexico earlier this month. However, the number of migrants crossing from Mexico illegally skyrocketed following the 2020 election, and is on track to be the highest in 20 years, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas admitted.

Meanwhile, Washington is busily dismantling Trump’s immigration rules, from keeping asylum-seekers in Mexico until their cases are processed, to telling prosecutors to selectively enforce the law and carving out exemptions among migrants in the US illegally.

Republican governors of border states have accused Washington of dereliction of duty, with Greg Abbott of Texas pledging to build his own border wall in the place of the one Trump started but Biden ordered stopped, and inviting Trump for a visit to the border at the end of June.

On Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that in response to “the failure of the Biden administration to secure our southern border,” his state would send law enforcement officers to Texas and Arizona to help out. 

This would include personnel from the Highway Patrol, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, as well as sheriff’s deputies from at least nine counties.

“We believe that securing the southern border is important for our country, but specifically we believe it’ll benefit the people of Florida to be able to get this under control and so where the federal government has failed, the states are stepping up and doing our best to fill the void,” DeSantis said during a press conference at Pensacola.

Meanwhile, DHS Mayorkas told the authorities in Mexico on Tuesday that his department is no longer using the term “illegal alien” but “non-citizen” instead. Earlier in the day, his op-ed published in USA Today argued for the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive program to become law. This was endorsed by Harris and Biden himself. 

Trump had tried to revoke DACA, but the US Supreme Court blocked it on a technicality, ruling that his DOJ didn’t follow the Administrative Procedures Act correctly.

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‘Neat revisionism’: Fauci branded hypocrite again after claiming he was always ‘open’ to Covid-19 lab leak theory


Dr. Anthony Fauci is facing harsh reminders about his past comments on the origins of Covid-19 and the possibility that it was man-made after he said he’s been “open” to the theory and his critics are “distorting” his position.

The theory that Covid-19 was leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China was repeatedly dismissed by officials and the media during the pandemic as conspiracy talk, though the theory has been treated as a more serious possibility in recent months.

Fauci was one of the most prominent people to dismiss the lab leak notion, though he claimed this was not the case during a Wednesday appearance on ‘CBS This Morning.’

“If you go back then, even though you lean towards feeling this is more likely a natural occurrence, we always felt that you gotta keep an open mind – all of us. We didn’t get up and start announcing it, but what we said: ‘Keep an open mind and continue to look,’” he said, adding that it’s a “distortion” for critics to say otherwise. 

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director and White House health advisor, however, has made numerous public statements in the past dismissing the lab leak theory.

“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated,” he told National Geographic in May of 2020.

Fauci similarly dismissed lab leak theories in various interviews and during White House press briefings in 2020.

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Critics were quick to remind the health official of his past comments and accused him of hypocrisy, a charge he’s faced from the public for multiple positions that seemingly changed over the course of the pandemic.

“That’s some neat revisionism of the facts,” reporter Becket Adams tweeted, mentioning Fauci’s National Geographic comments. 

“Fauci now claiming US officials never tried to shut down debate on COVID origins. No: they always insisted it was vital to ‘keep an open mind,’” journalist Glenn Greenwald added. “If that’s true, why did Silicon Valley monopolies ban any questioning of the zoonotic theory, citing US/WHO health officials to do so?”

Until last month, posts promoting the lab leak origin theory for Covid-19 could get posts flagged and removed on Facebook. Some outlets, like Politifact, had also previously dismissed the lab leak theory as “debunked,” a “fact-check” Politifact retracted last month.

In a recent interview on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe,’ Fauci said he supported investigations into the origins of Covid-19, but said many pushing the lab leak theory have been too “accusatory” toward China and claimed this attitude is non-productive. 

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Ask Bezos to eat Mona Lisa & deny him reentry to Earth: Petitions get 17k+ signatures ahead of Amazon founder’s space trip


A petition calling for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to be denied reentry to Earth following his trip to space next month has received nearly 10,000 signatures. Another petition calling for him to eat the Mona Lisa has received 7,000.

Bezos will take a 10-minute test flight to space on July 20 with his brother Mark, along with a tourist who paid $28 million for the privilege, aboard the New Shepard reusable rocket created by Bezos’ Blue Origin aerospace company.

Though many people across the world have been eagerly anticipating the demonstration of a new stage of space technology, thousands of others came together to argue that Bezos – who is worth nearly $200 billion – shouldn’t be allowed to return.

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The joke ‘Petition To Not Allow Jeff Bezos Re-Entry To Earth’ has received over 9,500 signatures as of writing, and claims Bezos is actually Superman villain Lex Luthor “disguised as the supposed owner of a super successful online retail store.”

“However, he’s actually an evil overlord hellbent on global domination. We’ve known this for years. Jeff has worked with the Epsteins and the Knights Templar, as well as the Free Masons to gain control over the whole world,” the petition continues, accusing him of being “in bed with the flat earth deniers” as “it’s the only way they’ll allow him to leave the atmosphere.”

People who signed the petition also called Bezos “a cancer upon this planet” and asked the Amazon founder to take fellow billionaire Elon Musk with him.

Meanwhile, another Bezos-themed petition has also gone viral, requesting that he purchase and eat Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ painting.

“We want Jeff Bezos to buy and eat the Mona Lisa” has received over 6,800 signatures as of writing and the description simply reads, “Nobody has eaten the mona lisa and we feel jeff bezos needs to take a stand and make this happen.”

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Rogue ex-Fox 26 reporter accuses station of bias & self-censorship to please advertisers


Ivory Hecker, who went viral after accusing her now-former employer Fox 26 of “muzzling” her, has presented the records she kept to make the case of entrenched “corruption” at the news station.

Hecker, who was suspended and later fired by the Houston affiliate of Fox News after her Monday live report stunt, was interviewed by Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe. Her story, however, fell short of the smoking gun that some viewers expected. The substance of her allegations was that Fox 26 was putting profits and other corporate interests before the interests of its viewers.

One part of her argument was a recording confirming the station’s refusal to cover bitcoin in its five o’clock segment. Assistant News Director Lee Meier said it was her choice not to pursue the story because “Bitcoin for poor African-American audience at five – it’s probably not going to play.” Meier’s words seem to be an example of how the editorial decision-making process works based on who watches the early evening news.

A large portion of the interview was dedicated to the coverage of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), an anti-malaria drug that was at one point considered a promising treatment for Covid-19, and became a hot political topic in the US after then-President Donald Trump endorsed it.

Among other things, Trump shared a video of a controversial HCQ enthusiast, Houston-based doctor and pastor Stella Immanuel. After going viral, her videos were suppressed by social media as Covid-19 misinformation.

Hecker says she was harshly reprimanded by management for sharing a clip from an interview with Dr. Joseph Varon, the chief of critical care at UMMC Houston, which her crew filmed while doing a story for Fox 26. In it, Varon said that HCQ was “politicized up to the wazoo,” and that he used the drug in the treatment of Covid-19 patients “with good success.”

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Fox 26 Vice President and News Director Susan Schiller told Hecker to “cease and desist posting” about HCQ and said she “failed as a reporter to not know more” about the drug beforehand, according to a recorded conversation, which was played during the Project Veritas interview. The journalist rejected the accusation, citing an earlier piece she did about the controversy surrounding Dr. Immanuel. The criticism was apparently motivated by potential negative reactions to the post from senior management at Fox News.

Project Veritas also played some of its own secret recordings of Fox 26 employees, confirming that the station sold advertising time to the CDC. O’Keefe insinuated that Fox subjected its news reporting on health issues and Covid-19 to the considerations of advertisers, including vaccine producers, but failed to produce solid proof. The closest thing to an admission was a remark that “a lot of stuff can happen,” which was made by a sales coordinator after she was asked if the Ad Council could call and ask not to run “any anti-vax stories” as a precondition for buying some spots.

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Hecker accused Fox News of enforcing “the corporate narrative” and failing its viewers and the principles of journalism, which amounts to “corruption” of the profession. Fox 26 said it “adheres to the highest editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality” and called the journalist “a disgruntled former employee seeking publicity by promoting a false narrative produced through selective editing and misrepresentation.” Asked about her motive for turning on Fox, Hecker said she wanted to protect viewers from corporate deception.

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Biden nominates ‘Miracle on Hudson’ hero Chesley Sullenberger as US global aviation ambassador


US President Joe Biden has nominated the former pilot who safely landed a malfunctioning passenger airliner in a river off Manhattan in 2009 to serve as ambassador to the UN aviation agency. 

Retired captain Sullenberger, known as Sully, was tapped to be the US envoy to the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the UN agency responsible for developing standards and policies for global aviation. The ICAO headquarters is located in Montreal, Canada.

In 2009, Sullenberger was the captain of a US Airways jetliner that struck a flock of geese shortly after takeoff from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport. The plane quickly lost power in both of its engines, but Sullenberger managed to land the aircraft in the Hudson River, saving all 155 people on board.

The successful water landing, called the “miracle of the Hudson” by then-New York Governor David Paterson, made Sullenberger a national hero. He later pursued a career as an author, public speaker, and aviation expert on TV.

Sullenberger was portrayed by Tom Hanks in a 2016 Clint Eastwood movie that retold the story of the 2009 event.

During the highly contentious 2020 US presidential election, the former pilot appeared in a dramatic campaign ad that attacked Joe Biden’s opponent, former President Donald Trump. “All we have to do is vote him out,” he said in the ad produced by anti-Trump group the Lincoln Project.

Sullenberger wrote an op-ed for the New York Times that year, in which he defended Biden from criticism by Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump.

On Tuesday, Biden also nominated Thomas Nides, a former banker and State Department official under Barack Obama, to serve as an ambassador to Israel, and Ken Salazar, a former senator and Obama’s interior secretary, to serve as ambassador to Mexico.

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Iran, Iraq and UAE, Saudi march into final phase of World Cup qualifying


DOHA: Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE topped their respective groups to ease into the third phase of Asian qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Tuesday

On a frantic day of action across Asia, with 14 matches played, Iraq, Oman, China, Vietnam and Lebanon also made it through after finishing among the five best second-placed teams.

Syria, Japan, South Korea and Australia had already clinched their spots in the deciding round, from which four countries will advance to next year’s tournament in Qatar.

Qatar, who topped Group E, will not play in the final phase as they qualify automatically as hosts.

On Tuesday, Iran pipped Iraq 1-0 in Bahrain to top Group C while the UAE edged Vietnam 3-2 in their final Group G match in Dubai.

To qualify, both Iran and the UAE needed to topple the teams that went into the final round of matches leading their groups. They did it in contrasting styles.

Sardar Azmoun fired Iran ahead in the 35th minute at the Sheikh Ali bin Mohamed al-Khalifa Stadium in Muharraq.

The Zenit Saint Petersburg striker, who has played a pivotal role for his team since the qualifiers resumed, tapped in from close range after captain Ehsan Hajsafi made his way up the left flank and sent in a cross.

Both teams fluffed chances later but Iran hung on to their lead to take their tally to 18 points from eight matches, while Iraq finished on 17.

Meanwhile in Dubai, Vietnam wasted their two-point advantage at the top as they were beaten by the Emiratis with Ali Salmeen and Ali Mabkhout finding the net in the first half.

Mahmoud Khamis made it 3-0 five minutes after the break, and while Vietnam pulled two late goals back through Nguyen Tien Linh and Tran Minh Vuong it wasn’t enough to keep top spot.

China’s also needed to win their last match and they did that comfortably with a 3-1 victory over Syria.

Zhang Xizhe, Wu Lei and Zhang Yuning scored for China in Sharjah. Syria’s goal was scored by Aias Aosman.

Elsewhere, Salman al-Faraj scored a brace as Saudi Arabia thrashed Uzbekistan 3-0 to clinch top spot in Group D.

Ali al-Hassan added a third in the second half as the Saudis took their tally to 20 points from eight matches.

Already-qualified Australia edged Jordan 1-0 to record their eighth consecutive win in the second phase. Harry Souttar scored the only goal.

Earlier striker Ado Onaiwu bagged a six-minute first-half hattrick as Japan confirmed their dominance in Group F with a crushing 5-1 win over the Kyrgyz Republic in Suita, Japan.

Manager Hajime Moriyasu made five changes to the side that beat Tajikistan 4-1 a week ago and opted for Onaiwu to lead the attack in the absence of Takumi Minamino, who withdrew from the squad last week “due to club circumstances”.

With qualification already secured, Minamino, who had netted in all seven of Japan’s previous group matches, reportedly left after playing in the 1-0 friendly win against Serbia on Thursday, to sort out a move from Liverpool to Southampton.

In his place, Onaiwu opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 27th minute after a handball by Aizar Akmatov.

Onaiwu tapped in his second four minutes later at the far post after good work down the right by Kawabe Hayao and completed his quickfire treble in the 33rd minute with a towering header.

Takuma Asano and Sho Sasaki added two more after the break while Kyrgyz captain Mirlan Murzaev scored their consolation penalty in first half stoppage time.

In the other Group F match, Tajikistan beat Myanmar 4-0 in Osaka to seal second place. – AFP

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Cheng Hoe delighted as players fought hard till the end against Thailand


KUALA LUMPUR: Harimau Malaya head coach Tan Cheng Hoe was pleased to see his charges record a vital 1-0 win against Thailand in their 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup second round qualification campaign at the Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai on Tuesday night (early morning Wednesday in Malaysia).

Cheng Hoe hailed his players’ fantastic performance and commitment as they came away with all three points in a do-or-die match against the Thais, thus ensuring the national squad a direct spot in the next round of the 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers.

“It was indeed a very tough match for us…The players fought very hard as they tried to stop Thailand from scoring until the referee blew the (final) whistle,” he told the post-match press conference in Dubai, as shared by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) today.

Second-half substitute Muhammad Safawi Rasid was the hero for the Harimau Malaya when he scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in the 52nd minute.

Despite the win, the 53-year-old coach was left to rue on a few wasted opportunities to kill off the game comfortably against Akira Nishino’s side.

This is Cheng Hoe’s second win over Thailand, extending his unbeaten run against The War Elephants to four matches since taking charge in December 2017.

In the meantime, Cheng Hoe believed that his players will surely gain valuable experience and learn a big lesson following their failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup but the former Kedah coach vowed to emerge stronger for their upcoming challenge in the next round of the 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Safawi was more than happy to see his teammates’ effort as they played all their part to ensure Harimau Malaya roared again and ignited their 2023 Asian Cup hopes.

In another Group G match, the UAE ended Vietnam’s seven-match unbeaten run with a 3-2 win at the Zabeel Stadium.

Malaysia, thus, ended their Group G qualifying campaign in third spot with 12 points, with the UAE on top with 18 points and Vietnam second on 17 points.

Thailand ended up fourth with nine points while Indonesia remained rooted at the bottom with just one point. – Bernama

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Activist lands on pitch before Germany-France match, ‘injures several fans’


MUNICH: A Greenpeace activist crash-landed on the pitch in Munich on Tuesday before the Germany-France match at Euro 2020 after his powered parachute microlight struck spidercam cables at the Allianz Arena, with UEFA saying he had “injured several people”.

The pilot flew over the pitch just before kick off in the Group F clash with “Kick out oil” written on the canopy of his parachute.

However, when the pilot hit television cables above the pitch, it knocked his microlight off balance and he landed on the turf after clipping one of the stands.

This is when UEFA said several people were injured and had to be hospitalised.

“This inconsiderate act – which could have had very serious consequences for a huge number of people attending – caused injuries to several people attending the game who are now in hospital and law authorities will take the necessary action,” European football’s governing body said in a statement.

“The staging of the match was fortunately not impacted by such a reckless and dangerous action, but several people were injured nonetheless.”

The activist seemed unhurt and was quickly arrested.

The stunt was a protest against German car manufacturer Volkswagen, one of the sponsors of the European Championship, Greenpeace explained in a Twitter post.

“UEFA and its partners are fully committed to a sustainable Euro 2020 tournament and many initiatives have been implemented to offset carbon emissions,” said UEFA. – AFP

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Cuomo declares Covid-19 measures over, praises rule-following constituents after 70% get at least one vaccine shot


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sang his own praises as he cancelled “virtually all” of the state’s virus-related restrictions, which plagued businesses and residents for more than a year, but not everyone’s so thrilled.

“If you said to us on day one, at the beginning of Covid, that we would be capable of what we have done, no one would believe it,” Cuomo said, adding that the state now boasts the country’s “lowest Covid positivity rate.” 

Hyping the state’s broad obedience to his executive orders, during which 70% of residents received at least one dose of the three vaccines approved for use in the US, the governor declared that business as usual could return on Tuesday. Offices, sporting events, manufacturing sites, malls and child care businesses are free to open their doors once again, Cuomo announced.

Not only can businesses reopen, Cuomo said, but capacity restrictions will be repealed, as well as mandatory health screenings, which were required before entering certain establishments. The previous capacity rules were controversial, namely for religious groups who were barred from attending worship services, some of whom sued the governor over the restrictions earlier this year. It remains to be seen whether the groups will hail Tuesday’s move as a victory, or slam it as too little, too late.

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While Cuomo promised to treat restive New Yorkers with bread and circuses in the form of fireworks displays in several of the state’s largest cities, the spectacles are unlikely to pacify those who were left out in the cold by the stimulus packages, or who lost their home or business after falling through one of the holes in the Trump and Biden administrations’ hastily constructed safety net, detractors noted.

“I’m thinking about all of the elderly who you sent to nursing homes to die,” one commenter seethed. “They won’t be watching fireworks.” 

And while many would argue children are the least risk-prone of all age groups for Covid-19, the overarching mask requirements imposed by the Centers for Disease Control will still be in effect for pre-K to grade 12 schools as well as for large-scale indoor venues.

Mass transit, homeless shelters, prisons, nursing homes and healthcare facilities have also fallen under President Joe Biden’s ultra-strict mask mandates, which the president appears unwilling to lift anytime soon. Those who are unvaccinated will also have to wear a mask under the CDC guidelines.

The announcements were accompanied by a self-congratulatory reception held by Cuomo, who is currently fielding a handful of sexual harassment suits. 

While Cuomo has faced backlash for the state’s disastrous nursing home policies amid the Covid-19 crisis, the governor did not mention his policy’s alleged victims or the tens of thousands of nursing home patients during the celebratory address.

“We’re no longer just surviving,” Cuomo gushed, declaring “life is about thriving, life is about seeing people, life is about loving, life is about celebrating, life is about enjoying, life is about interacting.”

While some warned the governor was moving too quickly to reopen, others insisted that he had effectively aided and abetted in the homicides of New Yorkers, especially elderly people in care homes, even as a military hospital ship sat anchored in the harbor largely unused and the Javits Center field hospital languished nearly empty.

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A 242-page report by the New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on Nursing Homes and Long-​Term Care, which was appointed to review the pandemic response, concluded last week that Cuomo’s directive for nursing homes to admit Covid-19 positive patients “did lead to some number of additional deaths.” 

Cuomo, a Democrat, has been governor of New York since 2011, and despite his legal issues has no plans to step down for the next election. His father Mario Cuomo also held the governor role, albeit for three years.

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Copa America registers another 11 positive Covid-19 tests


BRASILIA: The number of Covid-19 cases recorded among people involved in the Copa America rose to 52 on Tuesday, an increase of 11 on two days previously, Brazil’s Health Ministry said.

Two of the new cases were players or officials embedded with the competing teams, the ministry said.

It did not reveal any more details or say which of the 10 competing South America nations were affected.

In total 33 players or officials from Venezuela, Colombia and Bolivia have tested positive since Sunday, the day the soccer tournament kicked off in four Brazilian cities.

Another 19 were employees working at hotels in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro where the delegations are staying.

Brazil assumed responsibility for hosting the Copa America, South America’s equivalent of the European Championship, on May 31, less than two weeks before the tournament kicked off.

It did so after Argentina pulled out due to a Covid-19 surge there and in spite of the wave of infections still rolling across Brazil.

Another 2,468 people died from the virus in Brazil on Tuesday, the Health Ministry said, bringing the overall death toll to 490,696, more than any country apart from the United States. – AFP

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