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US Government Aware of Long Delays in Visa Appointments in India, says White House

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US Govt Aware of Long Delays in Visa Appointments in India

The Biden Administration is aware of the lengthy delays and is making efforts to address the “high demand of these visa services” as the wait time for visa appointments in India approaches 1000 days, according to a statement from the White House on December 8.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre informed reporters at her daily press conference, “I can state that the Biden administration is aware of the difficulties.”

She was responding to a query regarding the agonizingly lengthy visa appointment wait, which currently exceeds 1,000 days, at the US missions in India.

According to Travel. State official website, the wait time for Interview Required Visitors (B1/B2) is currently 999 days.

“While we have made great progress in recovering from the staffing issues and closures caused by the pandemic, as you know because you follow this very carefully, we are still trying to meet the high demand for these visa services”, declared Jean-Pierre.

We are successfully reducing visa interview wait times around the world, and we’ve doubled our hiring of US Foreign Service personnel to do this important work. Visa processing is recovering faster than projected, and this year we expect to reach pre-pandemic processing levels, so that is something that we will continue to do “She added more.

A presidential commission suggested early this week that President Joe Biden take into account issuing a directive to the State Department to lower the wait times for visa appointments for nations like India with severe backlogs to a maximum of two to four weeks.

The wait times for appointments for non-immigrant visas, visitor visas (B1/B2), student visas (F1/F2), and temporary worker visas (H, L, O, P, Q) at embassies in a few Pacific Islands and Asian nations, such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal, are incredibly long.

In the case of India, it has been close to 1,000 days, causing hardship for families of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) both domestically and overseas, as well as significant inconveniences for students, businesses, and tourists.

Speaking about other nations, Beijing has a 2-day wait period for Interview Required Visitors (B1/B2) whereas Shanghai has a 30-day wait time. In Pakistan’s Karachi, the wait for a visa appointment is 381 days. In Dhaka, the wait period is 294 days.

The President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders made a number of recommendations to the White House during its meeting this week to shorten the growing wait times for visa appointments at US embassies around the world, particularly in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and other nations.

Ajay Jain Bhaturia, a prominent member of the Indian American community, inspired the presidential commission to recommend that Biden consider sending a memo to the State Department requesting that the wait times for visa appointments be cut to a maximum of 2-4 weeks for nations with significant backlogs, such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India.

It advised the State Department to take all required actions to hasten visa processing in foreign embassies and shorten the wait times for visa appointments for India and other affected embassies to no more than 2-4 weeks.

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Donald Trump Reinstated to Facebook, Instagram after 2-year Ban

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Donald Trump reinstated to Facebook, Instagram

Facebook parent company, Meta, has decided to lift the two-year suspension of former President Donald Trump’s personal account. The suspension was put in place following the January 6 insurrection. In a blog post, the company stated that they are implementing new measures to prevent future violations of their rules by political candidates or world leaders. The company believes that the public should have access to the statements made by politicians, whether they are positive or negative, so that they can make informed decisions. The new guardrails will be put in place to ensure that there are no repeat offenders. The company also emphasised that they will take action against any individual who violates their rules, regardless of their status or position. The decision to lift the suspension has been met with mixed reactions, with some praising the move as a necessary step towards free speech while others criticise it as a potential threat to public safety.

According to Nick Clegg, Vice President of Global Affairs for Meta, the public has the right to know what their politicians are saying, whether it is positive or negative. This is important because it allows citizens to make informed choices when they vote. 

Clegg stated that the public should be aware of the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to the statements made by politicians. This way, they can make informed decisions at the ballot box. Clegg believes that this is essential for a healthy democracy and that it is important for the public to have access to the statements made by politicians, regardless of whether they agree with them or not. He also emphasized that the company will put in place new guardrails to ensure that there are no repeat offenders who violate its rules, even if they are political candidates or world leaders. Clegg believes that this is necessary to keep the public informed and to ensure that democracy works as it should.

Facebook’s decision to reinstate former President Donald Trump’s personal account has significant implications for his potential third run for the White House. Not only does it allow him to communicate directly with his 34 million followers – a significantly larger audience than the 4.8 million who currently follow him on his own site, Truth Social – but it also allows him to resume direct fundraising. Facebook was a crucial source of fundraising revenue for Trump’s campaigns, which spent millions of dollars on the company’s ads in 2016 and 2020.

 During the suspension, his supporters were able to raise money for him, but they couldn’t run ads directly from him or in his voice. Trump has criticized Facebook’s decision to suspend his account and praised Truth Social, stating that this should never happen to a sitting President or anyone else who is not deserving of retribution. Other social media companies, including Snapchat, where he remains suspended, also removed him from their platforms following the insurrection.

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7 Dead in Half Moon Bay Mass Shooting

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Half Moon Bay

The small beach-side community of Half Moon Bay in California has been left reeling after a tragic event that saw at least seven individuals lose their lives in a pair of related shootings. This act of violence comes just two days after another mass shooting that resulted in the deaths of 11 people in Monterey Park. The perpetrator of these shootings is said to be a 67-year-old resident of Half Moon Bay.

According to reports, the individual is accused of opening fire at two rural locations that were located around a mile apart from each other. In the process, some of the victims were shot in front of children who lived nearby and had just been released from school.

The San Mateo County Sheriff, Christina Corpus, has expressed her shock and sorrow at the incident. She stated that “These types of shootings are devastating and unfortunately, all too common.” For children to witness this is unspeakable.” The sheriff’s department and local authorities are now investigating the matter, and the perpetrator is being held in custody.

The community is in shock as they try to come to terms with the tragic event that has occurred. People are struggling to understand how something like this could happen in their small town, and many are questioning what could have been done to prevent it. The families of the victims are in the thoughts and prayers of the entire community as they try to come to terms with their loss.

This tragic event serves as yet another reminder of the need for stricter gun laws and a more robust mental health support system in the United States. It is a call to action for the government and the public to come together and take steps to prevent such senseless acts of violence from happening again in the future. The shooter, thought to be an employee at a local farm or nursery, was apprehended by authorities shortly after the incident. The victims are also believed to have been workers at nearby farms, according to officials.

Deputies of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office discovered four victims who were shot to death in the 12700 block of San Mateo Road, an unincorporated area of the county, around 2:30 p.m. A fifth victim was also located and rushed to Stanford Medical Center with critical injuries, as per the statement issued by the Sheriff’s office. A short while later, deputies found three more victims who had died due to apparent gunshot wounds, about a mile away, in the 2100 block of Cabrillo Highway.

According to Sheriff Corpus, the suspect is thought to have traveled between the two locations, shooting the unidentified victims at each site. The reason behind the shootings is yet to be determined, as per the statement given by the sheriff’s officials. The shooting suspect, Chunli Zhao, was located sitting in his car at the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office substation in Half Moon Bay at around 4:40 p.m. Video footage from ABC 7 shows deputies apprehending a man, who was wearing a white cap, vest, and red long-sleeve shirt in the parking lot.

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Bengaluru will Witness 187 Tata e-Buses in Four Months

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E bus

The Grand Challenge plan of Convergence Energy Services Ltd (CESL), a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the Union power ministry, aims to bring about a significant shift towards electric transportation in India. As part of this plan, 1,500 non-AC electric buses were allocated to the city of Bengaluru on a gross cost contract, also known as a lease model. CESL invited tenders for the operation and maintenance of these buses, and Tata Motors submitted a quote of Rs 41 per kilometer (including the cost of the driver) for a period of 12 years.

However, the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has shown interest in inducting only 921 of these e-buses so far. Of these, 187 will be inducted in the next four months, with the remainder to be added by 2025. The BMTC is setting up charging stations at Shantinagar, KR Puram, and Hoskote depots to support these buses.

The adoption of electric buses in Bengaluru represents a significant step towards the goal of reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the city. Electric buses produce zero emissions and are significantly quieter than their diesel counterparts, making them a more environmentally friendly and less disruptive mode of transportation. In addition, the cost of operating electric buses is generally lower than that of diesel buses, as electricity is generally cheaper than diesel fuel.

However, the transition to electric buses is not without its challenges. One of the main challenges is the need to set up infrastructure to support these vehicles, including charging stations and maintenance facilities. In addition, there is a need to address issues related to the availability and reliability of electric bus batteries, as well as the potential for battery waste.

Another challenge is the upfront cost of purchasing electric buses, which is generally higher than that of diesel buses. However, this cost is offset by the lower operating costs and reduced maintenance requirements of electric buses. In addition, various government incentives are available to encourage the adoption of electric buses, including subsidies and tax credits.

Despite these challenges, the adoption of electric buses in Bengaluru holds great potential for improving the quality of life in the city and reducing its environmental impact. The success of this project could serve as a model for other cities in India and around the world looking to transition to electric transportation.

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