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US visa freeze to hit IT, but seen as election year rhetoric – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-06-24 05:46:00
H-1B visa

The US decision to freeze work visas, including the H-1B visa for highly skilled workers, till the year end will add to the troubles of Indian software services companies that are already struggling to cope with travel curbs amid the pandemic.

The decision, fiercely criticized by US tech leaders such as Elon Musk and Sundar Pichai, is the latest in a series of measures by President Donald Trump to crack down on legal immigration to combat staggeringly high unemployment levels in the country before the presidential elections in November.

The flare-up of the work visa issue during the US election year should be seen as a temporary but recurring theme, analysts said.

“President Trump has made it clear that he sees restricting immigration as a key campaign issue, so it is likely that as the election draws closer, we will see further action on these issues,” said Rebecca Bernhard, partner at international law firm Dorsey & Whitney.

The Trump administration believes the move will open up employment opportunities for Americans in an economy that has reported record job losses.

Analysts dismissed the claim. This is just election-year rhetoric, said Siddharth Pai, a venture capitalist.

“The US will continue to have programmes to bring in skilled workers from India and other countries. Even if the ban is imposed, it is likely to be for the short term,” he said.

Industry body Nasscom said that thousands of US firms, universities, medical facilities, research institutions, directly and through their associations have asked Trump not to take such action because of the harm it would do as the country reopens and recovers.

Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, Infosys Ltd and Wipro Ltd have been increasing hiring American citizens to cut dependence on the H-1B visa amid changing regulations.

Infosys hired 78% of senior management and staff locally in FY20. “We are committed to strengthening local hiring practices and continuously increasing the proportion of senior management hires from the local regions of our operations,” Infosys said in its annual sustainability report 2020. It recruited over 6,932 staff locally in its markets and around 92% of the hiring in each location was principally local.

“FY21 is likely to see impact on demand, which reduces the need for new H-1B visas as new projects are delayed and rising unemployment levels in the US allows opportunities to hire locally,” Nomura Research said in a note on Monday.

Around 69.5% of Wipro’s workforce in the US is local, the company said in its annual report 2019-20. It employed more than 41,000 employees located outside India, out of its total workforce of 188,270 in FY20. In continental Europe, 67.6% of Wipro’s workforce is local followed by Australia (40%) and the UK (33%).

Infosys, Wipro and TCS declined to comment on the visa restrictions.

Nasscom has also called out the action against skilled immigrants in the US as “misguided and harmful to the US economy.” It has urged the administration to shorten the duration of these restrictions to 90 days.

“Lengthening these burdensome curbs on US firms that are trying to recover from the economic fallout of the covid pandemic will only serve to harm our economy,” Nasscom said.

C.P. Gurnani, managing director and CEO, Tech Mahindra, said the Indian IT industry has prepared itself for immigration challenges in the past as well and the impact will be minimal in the short term.

“…From a Tech Mahindra standpoint, we have been hiring locally, opened new centres in US and have been reskilling and upskilling a lot more engineers there. Moreover, we strongly believe the ‘future of work’ will be hybrid, a mix of both of physical and remote, and the overall application count for H-1B visas from India will continue to de-accelerate,” Gurnani said.

Nandita Mathur and Abhijit Ahaskar contributed to the story.

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Livemint news News in USA

Vande Bharat Mission: US, citing unfair limits, restricts India charter flights – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-06-23 10:01:00

The U.S. government on Monday restricted charter flights from India, accusing that nation of “unfair and discriminatory practices” by violating a treaty governing aviation between the two countries.

Air India Ltd. has been making flights to repatriate its citizens during the travel disruptions caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, but also has been selling tickets to the public, the Transportation Department alleged.

At the same time, U.S. airlines have been prohibited from flying to India by aviation regulators there, the DOT said in its order. The situation “creates a competitive disadvantage for U.S. carriers,” the agency said in a press release.

Air India is advertising a schedule that is more than half of pre-virus operations, the department said. “The charters go beyond true repatriations, and it appears that Air India may be using repatriation charters as a way of circumventing” that nation’s flight restrictions, the U.S. agency said.

The order becomes effective in 30 days, the department said.

Indian airlines must apply to the DOT for authorization before conducting charter flights so that it can scrutinize them more closely, it said. The department will reconsider the restrictions once India lifts restrictions on U.S. carriers.

The action against India follows weeks of DOT restrictions against Chinese airlines after the U.S. agency accused that nation of unfairly banning American carriers in the wake of the virus. On June 15, the U.S. announced it would agree to allow four flights a week from China after it allowed the same number by U.S. carriers.

Attempts to reach Air India and the Indian embassy in Washington after business hours were unsuccessful.

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Mike Pompeo tears into ‘rogue actor’ China for ‘escalating’ border tension with India – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-06-20 00:16:00
India-China Face-Off

Launching a scathing attack on the Chinese government, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Chinese Communist Party wants to undo all the progress the free world has made through institutions like NATO and adopt a new set of rules and norms that accommodate Beijing.

“The PLA (People’s Liberation Army) has escalated border tensions with India, the world’s most populous democracy. It’s militarising the South China Sea and illegally claiming more territory there, threatening vital sea lanes,” Pompeo said, a day after he expressed deep condolences to India on the death of 20 soldiers in violent clashes with Chinese troops at Galwan Valley in Ladakh early in the week.

In his virtual address on “Europe and the China Challenge” during the 2020 Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Friday, the top American diplomat said that for many years, the West, in an era of hope, believed they could change the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and improve the lives of the Chinese people along the way.

“Along the way, the CCP took advantage of our goodwill while assuring us they wanted a cooperative relationship. As (former Chinese politician) Deng Xiaoping said ‘Hide your strength, bide your time.’ I’ve talked in other venues about why this happened. It’s a complicated story. It’s no one’s fault,” Pompeo said.

Over decades, European and American companies have invested in China with great optimism. It outsourced supply chains to places like Shenzhen, opened education institutions for PLA-affiliated students and welcomed Chinese state-backed investment in their countries, he said.

But the CPC decreed an end to freedom in Hong Kong, violating an UN-registered treaty and the rights of its citizens. This is one of many international treaties the party has violated, the secretary said.

“General Secretary Xi Jinping has greenlighted a brutal campaign of repression against Chinese Muslims, a human rights violation on a scale we haven’t seen since World War II. Now, the PLA has escalated border tensions with India,” he said.

The clash in Galwan Valley is the biggest confrontation between the two militaries after their 1967 clashes in Nathu La when India lost around 80 soldiers while the death toll on the Chinese side was over 300.

The Chinese soldiers used stones, nail-studded sticks, iron rods and clubs in carrying out brutal attacks on Indian soldiers after they protested the erection of a surveillance post by China on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control in Galwan.

“The CCP isn’t just a rogue actor in its own neighbourhood. It lied about the coronavirus and let it spread to the rest of the world, while pressuring the WHO to assist its cover-up campaign. Hundreds of thousands of people have died, and the global economy has been decimated,” Pompeo said.

Even now, months into the pandemic, China has not provided access to live virus samples, facilities, or information about patients in December in Wuhan, he said.

China is pushing disinformation and malicious cyber campaigns to undermine governments and to drive a wedge between the US and Europe, Pompeo alleged.

“It’s saddling developing nations with debt and dependency. It’s strong-arming nations to do business with Huawei, an arm of the CCP’s surveillance state. It’s flagrantly attacking European sovereignty by buying up ports and critical infrastructure from Piraeus to Valencia,” said the top American diplomat.

“We must take off the golden blinders of economic ties and see that the China challenge isn’t just at the gates; it’s in every capital. Every investment from a Chinese state-owned enterprise should be viewed with suspicion,” he said.

“Europe faces a China challenge, just as the United States does, and just as our South American, African, Middle Eastern, and Asian friends do. As I said earlier this week to my EU counterparts, I know there’s fear in Europe that the United States wants you to choose between us and China,” he said.

“It’s the Chinese Communist Party that’s forcing the choice. The party wants you to throw away the progress we in the free world have made, through NATO and other institutions – formal and informal – and adopt a new set of rules and norms that accommodate Beijing,” Pompeo said.

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Europe threatens digital taxes without global deal, after US quits talks – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-06-19 00:46:00

The European Union said on Thursday it could impose taxes on digital giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook even without a global agreement by the year-end, after Washington quit talks and stoked fears of a new trade war.

The latest transatlantic row was ignited when the United States said on Wednesday it was withdrawing from negotiations with European countries over new international tax rules on digital firms, saying talks had made no progress.

Nearly 140 countries are involved in the talks organised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on the first major rewrite of global tax rules in a generation to bring them up to date for the digital era.

“A trade war, especially at this point in time, where the world economy is going through a historical downturn, would hurt the economy, jobs and confidence even further,” OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria said, urging all sides to reach a deal.

The talks aim to reach agreement by the end of 2020, but that deadline is now slipping out of reach with Washington’s latest move and the U.S. presidential election in November.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said France, Britain, Italy and Spain had jointly responded on Thursday to a letter from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announcing the pullout.

“This letter is a provocation. It’s a provocation towards all the partners at the OECD when we were centimetres away from a deal on the taxation of digital giants,” Le Maire told France Inter radio.

Spain’s government said it and other European nations would not accept “any type of threat from another country” over the digital tax. Italy said it was committed to a global deal.

European countries says tech firms pay too little tax in countries where they do business because they can shift profits around the globe. Washington has resisted new unilateral taxes on Silicon Valley companies in the absence of an OECD deal.


“The European Commission wants a global solution to bring corporate taxation into the 21st century,” European Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said.

“But if that proves impossible this year, we have been clear that we will come forward with a new proposal at EU level,” he said, saying taxes could be introduced even without a deal.

France, one of several European countries which has enacted new taxes, had agreed to suspend collection of its levy while talks were under way on a global approach.

Le Maire said France would impose its digital services tax this year, whether or not Washington returned to negotiations.

“No one can accept that the digital giants can make profits from their 450 million European clients and not pay taxes where they are,” he said.

The French tax applies a 3% levy on revenue from digital services earned in France by companies with revenues of more than 25 million euros ($28 million) in France and 750 million euros worldwide.

Washington has threatened to impose trade tariffs on French Champagne, handbags and other goods in response.

The United States opened trade investigations this month into digital taxes in Britain, Italy, Spain and other countries over concerns that they unfairly target U.S. companies.

President Donald Trump threatened this month to impose tariffs on EU cars if the bloc did not drop its tariff on American lobsters.

Efforts to reach even a limited U.S.-EU trade deal have foundered and sources on both sides see little chance of progress with a U.S. presidential election barely four months away.

A finance ministry spokesperson in Britain, which is seeking trade deals with Brussels and Washington after it left the EU, said that London’s “preference is for a global solution to the tax challenges posed by digitalisation.”

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US virus layoffs top 45.7 million as 1.5 million file new jobless claims – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-06-18 19:42:00

Another 1.5 million US workers filed for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, bringing the number of people laid off, at least temporarily, by COVID-19 to 45.7 million.

The level of new jobless claims was surprisingly high, a decrease of only 58,000 from the previous week’s level, while the insured unemployment rate showing people still receiving aid as of the week ended June 6 was unchanged at 14.1 percent, with 20.5 million people continuing to receive benefits.

Additionally, more than 760,000 people in 46 states filed as of last week claims for unemployment assistance under a special program for people who normally would not be eligible for the benefits, the Labor Department said.

Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics said the weekly report offered a mixed verdict on the health of the world’s largest economy.

“The decline in continuing claims for a second straight week, while small, is encouraging, signaling some hiring or rehiring,” she said. “However, the high pace of layoffs is indicative of ongoing strains in the labor market.”

The data represented the latest glimpse of the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which forced businesses across the country to shut down from mid-March, leading to mass layoffs.

The pace of new weekly claims filings has decreased since reaching their peak in late March, and many states have moved to reopen their economies, at least partially.

Yet the virus has persisted, with the epicenter of the epidemic shifting from New York to states in the south and west.

The United States has seen the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak, with more than 117,000 deaths and more than 2.1 million cases diagnosed.


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Donald Trump is aware of India-China border row: White House – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-06-18 01:15:00
India-China Face-Off

US President Donald Trump is aware of the fierce clash between the Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Laddakh, the White House said on Wednesday, stressing that there are no formal plans on mediating between the two countries.

Twenty Indian Army personnel, including a Colonel, were killed in the clash with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley on Monday night, the biggest military confrontation in over five decades that has significantly escalated the already volatile border standoff between the two countries.

“The president is aware of it. We’re monitoring the situation between Indian and Chinese forces along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters when asked about the border clash.

“We have seen the Indian Army statement that 20 Indian soldiers died as a result of the confrontation today, and we extend our deepest condolences on that,” she said.

McEnany stressed that there are no formal plans to mediate between India and China.

“No formal plans on that beyond what I already said in expressing our absolute condolences to the Indian soldiers that died as a result of today’s confrontation. We extend our deepest condolences there,” she said.

“I would note just that during the phone call on June 2 of this year that President Trump had with Prime Minister Modi, they did discuss the situation on the India-China border,” McEnany said.

The Indian Army initially said on Tuesday that an officer and two soldiers were killed. But in a late evening statement, it revised the figure to 20 saying 17 others who “were critically injured in the line of duty and exposed to sub-zero temperatures at the standoff location succumbed to their injuries.”

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry officials were silent on the casualties suffered by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops, but Hu Xijin, the editor of the ruling Communist Party-run Global Times tabloid, tweeted to say that there are casualties on Chinese side too.

According to a report in the US News, at least 35 Chinese troops including one senior official died in the violent clash with Indian soldiers.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday and they agreed to “cool down” tensions on the ground “as soon as possible” and maintain peace and tranquillity in the border area under the agreement reached between the two countries.

A large number of Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation in Galwan Valley and certain other areas of eastern Ladakh for the last five weeks, including in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh.

Monday’s face-off was the biggest confrontation between the two militaries after their 1967 clashes in Nathu La when India lost around 80 soldiers while over 300 Chinese army personnel were killed in the face-off.

The Indian Army has been fiercely objecting to the transgressions, and demanded their immediate withdrawal for restoration of peace and tranquillity in the area. Both sides held a series of talks in the last few days to resolve the row.

The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC). China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet, while India contests it.

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China warms to idea of four more years of Donald Trump Presidency – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-06-15 20:21:00

Interviews with nine current and former Chinese officials point to a shift in sentiment in favor of the sitting president, even though he has spent much of the past four years blaming Beijing for everything from U.S. trade imbalances to Covid-19. The chief reason? A belief that the benefit of the erosion of America’s postwar alliance network would outweigh any damage to China from continued trade disputes and geopolitical instability.

While the officials shared concerns that U.S.-China tensions would rise regardless of who was in the White House, they broke largely into camps of those who emphasized geopolitical gains and those who were concerned about trade ties. Biden, the former vice president, was viewed as a traditional Democrat who would seek to shore up the U.S.’s tattered multilateral relationships and tamp down trade frictions.

“If Biden is elected, I think this could be more dangerous for China, because he will work with allies to target China, whereas Trump is destroying U.S. alliances,” said Zhou Xiaoming, a former Chinese trade negotiator and former deputy representative in Geneva. Four current officials echoed that sentiment, saying many in the Chinese government believed a Trump victory could help Beijing by weakening what they saw as Washington’s greatest asset for checking China’s widening influence.

The general assumption underlying their views was that little could be done to halt the slide in relations between the world’s two biggest economies. Thus, China needed to accelerate efforts to develop high-end indigenous industries, expand into developing markets and look for opportunities to work with nations in Europe and Asia to counter any U.S. isolation efforts.

Over the course of Trump’s term, the realization has taken hold in Beijing that opposition to China enjoys deep bipartisan support in an otherwise-polarized Washington. The coronavirus outbreak, which was first discovered in the country’s central city of Wuhan, has only hardened American views toward Beijing.

‘Getting Worse’

“I don’t think the election will change the relationship in a fundamental way. The deep feeling in the U.S. is that the U.S. should contain China,” Zhou said. “Whether Trump wins, or Joe goes to Washington, things will get worse.”

Chinese officials, eager to avoid a repeat of their surprise when Trump upset former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016, have been pressing American contacts for insights about who will win. Senior members of the American business community in Beijing say recent weeks have seen a sudden up tick in outreach from well-connected Chinese friends who in some cases haven’t contacted them for years.

Although Republicans traditionally emphasized economic ties with China, Trump has moved the party in a more confrontational direction, challenging the country in virtually every area of the relationship from China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea to trade, public health, human rights and technology. The Democrats have largely supported those efforts, helping to pass legislation to support Hong Kong protesters and give more military aid to Taiwan.

Even Biden, who had long backed an “engagement” strategy with China, adopted a harsher tone as the Democratic presidential primaries heated up. In recent months, Biden has described President Xi Jinping as a “thug,” lauded the “extraordinary bravery” of democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong and accused China of “predatory” trade practices. He labeled the mass detention of Uighur Muslims in the far Western region of Xinjiang “unconscionable.”

Although Chinese officials continue to steer clear of criticizing Trump directly, Internet censors have allowed more nationalistic-tinged criticism of the U.S. to circulate online. One foreign diplomat said China’s foreign ministry was “combative” and “angry” toward U.S. officials.

“Trump has destroyed a lot of goodwill,” said Wang Huiyao, an adviser to China’s cabinet and founder of the Center for China and Globalization. “At the start of the trade war, there were a lot of people who were pro-U.S., but they are now sympathetic to the hard-liners.”

Trump has sought to capitalize on his reputation for confronting China in the election, despite his early praise for Xi’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. In April, he told Reuters that “China will do anything they can to have me lose this race,” asserting without evidence that Beijing’s response to the virus was focused on a desire to see him lose in November. China’s foreign ministry reiterated its longstanding position that it never seeks to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations.

U.S. Stability

One Chinese official said the election result didn’t matter since relations won’t improve either way. China’s best hope, they said, was that things didn’t deteriorate further.

Some in Beijing are wondering aloud about Trump’s long-term impact on U.S. stability, pointing to surging coronavirus cases, protests against police discrimination and speculation about whether the pandemic election might end in chaos. “The U.S. as we know it may no longer exist,” said Gao Zhikai, a former Chinese diplomat and interpreter for Deng Xiaoping.

Trump’s “America First” policies have created similar frictions in capitals that have traditionally been friendlier to the U.S., as he levies tariffs on key trading partners, presses allies for greater spending on collective defense, withdraws from multilateral agreements and supports the U.K.’s break from the Europe Union. Chinese officials privately acknowledge that a Democratic administration might prove more formidable if it worked with allies to present a united front.

Even if a Biden presidency proved more difficult for Beijing, two current Chinese officials said he might open up more areas for cooperation such as restoring U.S. participation in the Paris climate deal — negotiated while he was vice president under then-President Barack Obama.

“He supports working on topics like climate change, WTO reform and TPP,” said Wang. “There are areas where we can cooperate.”

On a more personal level, some Chinese officials involved in trade negotiations with the Trump administration support a Biden victory simply so they can spend more time with their families, according to one person familiar with their thinking. China’s trade team shows up to work looking exhausted, the person said.

Both sides may find it difficult to escape the pattern of confrontation no matter who wins. Huawei Technologies Co. executive Meng Wanzhou is still detained in Canada awaiting a decision on a U.S. extradition request, while Beijing’s plan to impose a security law on Hong Kong has caused outrage in Congress and brought the countries’ “phase one” trade deal into question.

“Nowadays in China people are becoming more and more clear about the U.S.’s objectives,” said Zhou, the former Chinese representative in Geneva. “We have not yet reached the darkest hour in the relationship.”

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Europe reopens many borders but not to Americans, Asians – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-06-14 17:42:00

Tourists from the U.S., Asia, Latin American and the Mideast will just have to wait, for now.

The European Union home affairs commissioner, Ylva Johansson, told member nations last week that they “should open up as soon as possible” and suggested Monday was a good date.

Many countries are doing just that, allowing travel from the EU, Britain and the rest of Europe’s usually passport-free Schengen travel area, which includes non-EU countries like Switzerland.

Europe’s reopening won’t be a repeat of the chaotic free-for-all in March when panicked, uncoordinated border closures caused traffic jams that stretched for miles. Still, it’s a complicated, shifting patchwork of different rules. And although tourist regions are desperately counting on them, a lot of Europeans may decide to stay close to home this summer.

That’s something tourism-dependent Mediterranean countries such as Greece are keen to avoid. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis acknowledged Saturday that “a lot will depend on whether people feel comfortable to travel and whether we can project Greece as a safe destination.”

Greece has emphasized its handling of its outbreak, which saw only 183 deaths. Overall, Europe has seen more than 182,000 virus-linked deaths this year, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that also shows Europe has had 2.04 million of the world’s 7.8 million infections.

Spain, which isn’t ending restrictions on domestic travel for another week and will restart foreign tourism in full on July 1, is allowing thousands of Germans to fly to its Balearic Islands for a two-week trial run starting Monday — waiving its 14-day quarantine for the group.

Border checks in some places have already wound down. Italy opened its borders on June 3 and towns on the German-Polish border celebrated early Saturday as Poland opened the gates. At midnight, the mayors of Goerlitz, Germany and Zgorzelec, Poland cut through chains on a makeshift fence that had divided the towns.

Germany, like France and others, is lifting remaining border checks on Monday and scrapping a requirement that arrivals must prove they have a good reason to enter. It also is easing a worldwide warning against nonessential travel to exempt European countries – except, probably, Finland, Norway and Spain, where travel restrictions remain, and Sweden, where the level of new coronavirus infections is deemed too high.

Many German regions have reimposed a quarantine requirement for arrivals from Sweden, whose virus strategy avoided a lockdown but produced a relatively high death rate.

Czech authorities will require arrivals from Sweden to show a negative COVID-19 test or to self-quarantine – along with travelers from Portugal and Poland’s Silesia region.

Austria is opening up Tuesday to European neighbors except Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Britain — and keeping a travel warning for Italy’s worst-hit region of Lombardy. France is asking people from Britain to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Britain recently introduced a 14-day quarantine requirement for most arrivals, to the horror of its tourism and aviation industries, which say the move will hit visits to Britain hard this summer.

Denmark is opening up only for tourists from Germany, Norway and Iceland — and only if they can prove that they’re staying for at least six nights. Norway also is keeping shut its long border with Sweden.

“I realize this is a big disappointment. But the restrictions are based on objective criteria that are the same for everyone,” Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said. “If we open too quickly, the infection can get out of control.”

With flights only gradually picking up, nervousness about new outbreaks abroad, uncertainty about social distancing at tourist venues and many people facing unemployment or pay cuts, this may be a good summer for domestic tourism.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz are both planning to vacation in their homelands this year.

“The recommendation is still, if you want to be really safe, a vacation in Austria,” Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told ORF television, recalling the scramble in March to bring home thousands of tourists as borders slammed shut. “In Austria, you know that you don’t have to cross a border if you want to get home, and you know the infrastructure and the health system well.”

The German government, which helped fly 240,000 people home as the pandemic grew exponentially, also has no desire to repeat that experience.

“My appeal to all those who travel: Enjoy your summer vacation — but enjoy it with caution and responsibility,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said. “In the summer holidays, we want to make it as difficult as possible for the virus to spread again in Europe.”

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Hard hit New York City begins reopening as coronavirus infection rate plummets – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-06-09 00:54:00

Exactly 100 days after the first coronavirus case was confirmed in New York City, some workers began returning to jobs on Monday at the start of reopening from a citywide shutdown to battle the epidemic that killed nearly 22,000 of its residents.

People who had been staying home for months boarded subways and buses as the most populous U.S. city began Phase One of its hopeful journey toward economic recovery.

“This is clearly the hardest place in America to get to this moment because we’re the epicenter,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

New York, by far the hardest-hit U.S. city, on Monday reported the rate of people testing positive for the coronavirus fell to a new low of 3%, well below its threshold for reopening of 15%, de Blasio said.

As some 400,000 workers head back to 32,000 construction sites, wholesale and manufacturing centers and some retail sites across the city, de Blasio urged them to wear face masks and use social distancing to keep COVID-19 cases on a downward trend – particularly those who use mass transit to get to work.

Subway rider Jim Duke, who commutes from the New York suburb of Putnam County, said normally packed trains had few enough riders to accommodate social distancing from other commuters.

“There’s not a lot of people on there, so it’s fairly easy. So far,” said Duke, wearing a face mask.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo noted that the rest of the state had already entered the same reopening phase without a jump in infections, largely because of restrictions that limit restaurants to serving guests only outdoors and retailers to making only curbside sales.

“If we follow those guidelines in New York City, there should not be a spike, just like there hasn’t been a spike across the rest of the state,” Cuomo said.

De Blasio said the city is opening 20 miles (32 km) of new bus routes and new bus lanes from June through October to increase spacing between mass transit passengers.

The mayor said he was cautiously monitoring the virus’ spread after thousands of protesters – many without masks – swarmed New York streets for daily marches against racism following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, to be sure reopening can continue and eventually bring customers back to hair salons, restaurants and other businesses.

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From small towns to cities, US sees biggest rallies yet for racial justice – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-06-07 21:16:00
George Floyd

Demonstrations were planned across the United States on Sunday to demand racial justice after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody, with weekend rallies spreading to smaller communities including an east Texas town once a haven for the Ku Klux Klan.

The U.S. marches also inspired anti-racism protests around the globe, as demonstrators from Brisbane and Sydney in Australia to London, Paris and other European cities embraced the Black Lives Matter message.

In Washington, tens of thousands of people chanting “I can’t breathe” and “Hands up, don’t shoot” rallied at the Lincoln Memorial then marched to the White House on Saturday in the biggest protest yet during 12 days of demonstrations across the United States since Floyd died.

A common message of the day was a determination to transform outrage generated by Floyd’s death last month into a broader movement seeking far-reaching reforms to the U.S. criminal justice system and its treatment of minorities.

“It feels like I get to be a part of history and a part of people who are trying to change the world for everyone,” said Jamilah Muahyman, a Washington resident protesting near the White House.

The gatherings in Washington and dozens of other U.S. cities and towns – urban and rural alike – were also notable for a generally lower level of tension and discord than was seen during much of the preceding week.

There were sporadic instances in some cities of protesters trying to block traffic. And police in riot gear used flash-bang grenades in a confrontation with demonstrators in Seattle.

But largely it was the most peaceful day of protests since video footage emerged showing Floyd, an unarmed black man in handcuffs, lying face down on a Minneapolis street on May 25 as a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The video sparked an outpouring of rage as protests in Minneapolis spread to other cities, punctuated by episodes of arson, looting and vandalism that authorities and activists blamed largely on outside agitators and criminals.

National Guard troops were activated in several states, and police resorted to heavy-handed tactics in some cities as they sought to enforce curfews imposed to quell civil disturbances, which in turn galvanized demonstrators even further.

The intensity of protests over the past week began to ebb on Wednesday after prosecutors in Minneapolis had arrested all four police officers implicated in Floyd’s death. Derek Chauvin, the officer seen pinning Floyd to the ground as Floyd repeatedly groaned “I can’t breathe” was charged with second-degree murder.

On Sunday morning, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he was lifting a citywide curfew a day early.

Still, anger in Minneapolis remained intense. The city’s mayor ran a gauntlet of angry, jeering protesters on Saturday after telling them he opposed their demands for de-funding the city police department.


Perhaps nowhere was the evolving, multi-racial dimension of the protests more evident than in the small, east Texas town of Vidor, one of hundreds of American communities known decades ago as “sundown towns” because blacks were unwelcome after dark.

Several dozen white and black protesters carrying “Black Lives Matter” signs demonstrated on Saturday in Vidor, once notorious as a Ku Klux Klan stronghold, highlighting the scope of renewed calls for racial equality echoing across the country five months before the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.

Elsewhere in the South, in Floyd’s birthplace of Raeford, North Carolina, hundreds lined up at a church to pay their respects during a public viewing of his body prior to a private memorial service for family members.

Floyd’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in Houston, where he lived before relocating to the Minneapolis area.

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