Census Figures Show Economic Gap Narrows with Citizenship

New figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show that citizenship appears to narrow the economic gap between the foreign-born and native-born in the United States.

The 2018 figures released Monday offer a view of immigrants’ education, wealth, and the jobs they work in. They also look at differences between naturalized immigrants and those who aren’t citizens.
Their release come as the U.S. is engaged in one of the fiercest debates in decades about the role of immigration.
Stopping the flow of immigrants into the U.S. has been a priority of the Trump administration, which has proposed denying green cards to immigrants who use Medicaid and fought to put a citizenship question on the decennial Census questionnaire.
Monday’s figures show naturalized immigrants had a slightly smaller median income than the native-born.


US Scraps West Bank Conference over Palestinian Protests

The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday was forced to postpone a conference it organized in the West Bank city of Ramallah after Palestinian officials and factions called for a boycott and threatened to organize protests.  
The Palestinians cut all ties with the U.S. after it recognized disputed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2017, and view the Trump administration as unfairly biased following a series of actions seen as hostile to their aspirations for an independent state.

The embassy had organized a conference this week to bring together alumni of U.S. educational and cultural programs, including dozens of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who received permission from Israel to attend. The territory has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power there in 2007.

The Palestinian leadership viewed the conference as an attempt to circumvent its boycott of the U.S. administration.

“We are aware of recent statements regarding a planned event for alumni of U.S. educational and cultural programs,” the U.S. Embassy said. “In order to avoid the Palestinian participants being put in a difficult situation, we have decided to postpone the event for now.”
It said this and other events “are designed to create opportunities for exchange and dialogue between Americans and Palestinians at the grassroots level.”

“This event in particular is intended to give alumni of all ages and backgrounds from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza an opportunity to network with each other and to engage in leadership and capacity building activities,” it said.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Mideast war, territories the Palestinians want for their future state. The Trump administration is at work on a long-awaited peace plan, but has not endorsed a two-state solution to the conflict. The Palestinians have already dismissed the plan, saying it is certain to be slanted toward Israel.
Representatives of several Palestinian factions held a press conference Monday at the hotel where the meeting was to have taken place.

Spokesman Isam Baker told The Associated Press that the Palestine Liberation Organization, an umbrella group, had reached out to the hotel management and the invitees asking them to boycott the meeting.

“Most of the invitees and the hotel administration agreed with us that the invitation has political implications and it is not innocent,” he said.
“The U.S. administration, which has cut off all aid to our people, shut down our office in Washington and placed huge pressure on our leadership to accept a pro-Israel political plan will not do any good for our people” he said. “Therefore, we are boycotting any activities it organizes.”

The U.S. cut more than $200 million in development aid to the Palestinians last year, gutting several long-running programs .

A statement released Sunday by the “national and Islamic forces of the Ramallah governorate” said they were determined to thwart the conference, calling it an attempt to “break the will of the Palestinian people.” It said they planned to organize a “mass popular event to prevent this activity by all available means,” calling for a sit-in and marches.

The youth wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party also called for a boycott. It vowed to “exercise all forms of legal and popular pressure to express rejection of this conference being held on occupied Palestinian land.” It also called for an “apology” from the hotel.

Chinese K-Pop Stars Publicly Back Beijing on Hong Kong

At least eight K-pop stars from China and even one from Taiwan and one from Hong Kong are publicly stating their support for Beijing’s one-China policy, eliciting a mixture of disappointment and understanding from fans. 

Many of the statements came after protesters opposed to Beijing’s growing influence over semi-autonomous Hong Kong removed a Chinese flag and tossed it into Victoria Harbor earlier this month. 

Lay Zhang, Jackson Wang, Lai Kuan-lin and Victoria Song were among the K-pop singers who recently uploaded a Chinese flag and declared themselves as “one of 1.4 billion guardians of the Chinese flag” on their official Weibo social media accounts. Wang is from Hong Kong and Lai is from Taiwan. 

Some see the public pronouncements as the latest examples of how celebrities and companies feel pressured to toe the line politically in the important Chinese market. Yet they also coincide with a surge in patriotism among young Chinese raised on a steady diet of pro-Communist Party messaging.

Song and Zhang, a member of popular group EXO, have shown their Chinese pride on Instagram, in Song’s case uploading an image of the Chinese flag last week with the caption “Hong Kong is part of China forever.” Such posts would only be seen by their international fans because Instagram, like most Western social media sites, is blocked by the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s censors.

K-pop fans reacted swiftly to the avowals of allegiance to China. Some called it shameful, while others were more understanding. 

Erika Ng, a 26-year-old Hong Kong fan of Jackson Wang, was not surprised by his statement. She said he “values the China market more than the Hong Kong market” because of his large presence in the mainland.

Wang, a member of the group Got7, used to carry a Hong Kong flag and wear a hat with the city’s symbol, a bauhinia flower. Lately, he has been carrying a Chinese flag on his concert tour and was wearing a China flag hoodie in his music video.

In this Jan. 14, 2019, file photo, singer Hong Kong singer Jackson Wang performs at the end of the Fendi men’s Fall-Winter 2019-20 collection, that was presented in Milan, Italy.

Ellyn Bukvich, a 26-year-old American who has been an EXO fan for five years, said many young fans will probably support Zhang and his message because of his status as a K-pop idol. 

 “It’s spreading propaganda and it’s very effective,” Bukvich said.

 The one-China policy maintains that there is only one Chinese government, and it is a key diplomatic point accepted by most nations in the world, including the U.S. It is mostly aimed at the democratic island of Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a breakaway province to be reunited with the mainland by force if necessary.

In the case of Hong Kong, a former British colony handed back to Chinese control in 1997, Beijing maintains a one country, two systems policy in which the city is guaranteed greater freedoms than those on the mainland until 2047.

China’s government and entirely state-controlled media have consistently portrayed the Hong Kong protest movement as an effort by criminals trying to split the territory from China, backed by hostile foreigners.

International brands – from fashion companies to airlines – have in the past been compelled to make public apologies for perceived breaches of that policy, such as listing Taiwan and Hong Kong as separate countries on their websites or T-shirts. 

Zhang terminated his partnership with Samsung Electronics last week, accusing the South Korean mobile giant of damaging China’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity.” 

The statement in a Weibo post was prompted by Samsung having separate language options for users in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan on their global website. Both Hong Kong and Taiwan use traditional Chinese characters instead of the simplified ones used in mainland China, and Hong Kong also has English as an official languages. Samsung declined to comment on whether it will continue to provide different language options for Taiwan and Hong Kong.

It can be difficult to know whether loyalty vows to Beijing are heartfelt or for commercial reasons. The past is littered with examples of celebrities, both Chinese and foreign, who saw their business in China destroyed after the party objected to a statement or an action. 

In 2016, Taiwanese K-pop star Chou Tzu-yu made a public apology for waving the Taiwanese flag while appearing on a South Korean television show. A Chinese vilification campaign against her led to a backlash among some Taiwanese, who at the time were amid a presidential election eventually won by Tsai Ing-wen, who is despised by Beijing for her pro-independence stance.

Public support for Beijing hasn’t been limited to pop stars.

Liu Yifei, the Chinese-born star of Disney’s upcoming live-action version of the film “Mulan,” weighed in on the situation in Hong Kong, where protesters have accused police of abuses. 

 “I support the Hong Kong police,” she wrote on her Weibo account. “You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong.” 

 Some questioned her motives, wondering if the post was calculated to ensure her film is released widely in China – the world’s largest film market. Among Hong Kong protesters, there were swift calls for a boycott of the film when it is released next year.

СЦКК заявляє, що бойовики зривають демонтаж укріплень в Станиці Луганській

Бойовики незаконного збройного угруповання «ЛНР» подовжили термін демонтажу фортифікаційних споруд на ділянці зруйнованого мосту в Станиці Луганській, заявляє українська сторона Спільного центру контролю і координації.

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Згідно з повідомленням, українська сторона у зв’язку з завершенням вилучення вибухонебезпечних предметів на цій ділянці готова почати демонтаж укріплень у дзеркальному режимі.

«Проте зі сторони тимчасово окупованої території надійшло повідомлення про прийняте рішення продовження робіт на протилежній стороні до 25 серпня, що унеможливлює українською стороною розпочати зазначені вище роботи. Варто зазначити, що дії противника свідчать про навмисний зрив запланованих заходів», – заявляють у центрі.

СЦКК додає, що демонтаж буде здійснюватися в рамках виконання домовленостей щодо розведення сил і засобів в районі Станиці Луганської.

17 липня представник ОБСЄ Мартін Сайдік повідомив, що учасники переговорів із врегулювання ситуації на Донбасі домовилися про ремонт мосту і попереднє розмінування місцевості навколо нього.

A Digital Setting For A Classical Violin Concert

Imagine listening to a violin concert in one of New York City’s majestic cathedrals or in the National Arboretum, surrounded by blooming magnolias. Now anyone can experience this exquisite scene with the use of VR glasses. A team of researchers from the University of Maryland at College Park came up with new immersive technologies that allow people from all over the world to experience performing arts in a breathtakingly beautiful setting without getting up from their couch. Nastassia Jaumen has the story.

Startup Ideas, Courtesy of Government Labs: One Firm Connects Entrepreneurs With New Technology

Every day, cutting-edge research is being performed in government and university labs across the country. Tech transfer is the process of taking that research out of the lab and transforming it into a business. One company jump-starts the process by introducing entrepreneurs to that research. Tina Trinh explains.

В Національному інституті раку заперечують дані поліції щодо хабарів за перемогу в торгах

Національний інститут раку прокоментував обшуки та повідомлення про корупцію в закладі, оприлюднені раніше Національною поліцією.

«Інформація, розміщена на сайті Національної поліції щодо «вимагання неправомірної вигоди від суб’єктів господарювання за перемогу у процедурах конкурсних торгів із закупівлі ліків та медикаментів для потреб Інституту раку та суму «відкатів» за перемогу у тендері 15-20 % від загальної вартості укладених угод», є спотвореною та не відповідає реальним обставинам кримінального провадження», – заявили в медичній установі.

Водночас у закладі визнали, що 16 серпня слідчі та оперативні працівники поліції провели обшуки в його приміщенням в рамках відкритого кримінального провадження щодо головного лікаря Інституту (за даними сайту, це наразі онколог Андрій Безносенко), його заступників та інших службовців.

Згідно з твердженням медичного закладу, адміністрація та колектив «всіляко сприяють правоохоронцям під час проведення слідчих дій».

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«На даний час триває службова перевірка уповноваженим з антикорупційної діяльності НІР фактів можливого зловживання службовим становищем посадових осіб інституту та досудове розслідування, яке як відомо має свою таємницю. Зазначені факти порушень мають бути обґрунтованими, об’єктивними та достатніми для прийняття кадрових рішень Адміністрацією закладу, у чіткій відповідності до норм діючого законодавства», – стверджують у відомстві.

Водночас у НІР не прокоментували твердження правоохоронців щодо хабарів, які лікарі нібито отримували за надання пацієнтам формально безоплатних ліків.

17 серпня Міністерство охорони здоров’я заявило про готовність до співпраці з поліцією у розслідуванні ймовірних корупційних правопорушень в Національному інституті раку.

Увечері 16 серпня Національна поліція повідомила про обшуки в приміщеннях Національного інституту раку. За даними поліцейських, медики установи отримали хабарі від громадян, які лікуються від онкологічних захворювань, а також від підприємств – за перемогу в конкурсних торгах. Хабарі зокрема нібито вимагали за надання пацієнтам ліків, які мають видаватися безоплатно.

UN Bans Sending Baby Elephants from Wild to Zoos and Circuses

Delegates at a U.N. wildlife conference in Geneva voted Sunday to ban the practice of taking baby elephants from their natural habitat and placing them in zoos and circuses.

Forty-six countries at the UN Convention ion International Trade in Endangered Species voted to outlaw the practice, white 18 voted against it, including the United States. Nineteen abstained.

The ban proclaims entertainment venues to be “unacceptable and inappropriate destinations” for elephants.

“This decision will save countless elephants from being ripped away from their families in the wild and forces to spend their lifetimes imprisoned in substandard conditions at zoos,” the Humane Society International said Sunday. “The capture of baby elephants is horribly cruel and traumatic to both the mothers, their calves and the herds that are left behind.”

Sunday’s decision specifically targets Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

CITES says Zimbabwe has sent more than 100 baby elephants to China since 2012, traumatizing the animals who it says are beaten, kicked, and treated cruelly by their handlers. Several have died.