Google is joined by 30 other tech firms to support the H-4 Employment Authorisation Document programmeWashington: Google is leading a determined effort by US tech giants to support a programme that gives work authorisation for spouses of those possessing H-1B foreign work visas, the most sought after among Indian IT professionals.Google is joined by 30 other companies to support the H-4 EAD (Employment Authorisation Document) programme.An H-4 visa is issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the H-1B visa holders.The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.”Google is proud to support our nation’s immigrants. We joined 30 other companies to protect the H-4 EAD programme which spurs innovation, creates jobs and opportunities, and helps families,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted.Google on Friday filed a legal brief in a lawsuit called Save Jobs USA vs US Department of Homeland Security.Tech companies that signed onto the amicus brief include Adobe, Amazon, Apple, eBay, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, PayPal and Twitter.”To support this important programme, we are leading an amicus brief with over 40 companies and organisations to preserve and protect the H-4 EAD programme,” Catherine Lacavera, Vice President, Legal, Google, said in a blog post.”This builds on an amicus brief we recently joined in support of a lawsuit filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association to expedite the delayed processing time of H-4 work authorisations,” she said.Kent Walker, Senior Vice President, Global Affairs, Google, said H-4 EAD authorisations for the spouses of high-skilled workers help American companies recruit and retain the world’s best talent.”Today we led a business coalition filing on behalf of 30 companies to preserve and protect the programme,” Mr Walker said.”H-4 EADs provide work authorisation to more than 90,000 H-4 visa-holders–more than 90 per cent women. COVID has disproportionately affected women. Ending this programme would make things worse, disrupting careers and reducing wages,” he said.”It doesn’t make sense to welcome a person to the US to work but to make it harder for their spouse to work. That hurts their family and hurts our economy now and in the future,” he added.The plaintiff is Save Jobs USA, a group of computer workers formerly employed by Southern California Edison and replaced by foreign workers imported on H-1B guest worker visas.Save Jobs USA filed the lawsuit in 2015. It was delayed as former president Donald Trump’s administration considered rescinding the H-4 work rule.A week after his inauguration on January 20, US President Joe Biden withdrew a Trump-era rule rescinding work authorisation for H-4 visa holders.Now, both the plaintiffs and the Biden administration are seeking summary judgment.In the amicus brief, Google said: “The regulation at issue here the H-4 Rule, US Department of Homeland Security, Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses, 80 Fed. Reg. 10,284 (Feb. 25, 2015) provides work authorization to more than 90,000 H-4 visa holders (spouses of certain H-1B visa holders), more than 90 per cent of whom are women.”Invalidation of this rule would result in these talented individuals being barred from the workplace, forcibly severing tens of thousands of employment relationships across the country,” it said.The results would be utterly destructive for the families impacted; by just one measure, about 87 per cent of these families have made crucial life decisions on the promise of H-4 employment, including whether to have a child and whether to buy a house, it said. (Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Prosecutor plans to seek death penalty in spa shootings
Firms are chartering oil tankers for floating storage and to move gasoline, diesel, sending rates through the roof.By Elizabeth LowBloombergOil tanker charter rates skyrocketed in the U.S. with refiners scrambling for ships to store fuel that has nowhere to go due to a cyberattack on the country’s main pipeline.
Companies such as Marathon Petroleum Corp, Valero Energy Corp and Phillips 66 were in the process of chartering several oil tankers for floating storage, according to shipbrokers who asked not to be identified. Ships can serve as offshore tanks during unexpected oversupply situations, such as last week’s shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline that halted fuel flows from refineries to customers along the East Coast.
“There’s no longer a market,” said shipbroker Simpson Spence Young in a May 10 report. It’s become “a smash and grab scenario with charterers focusing on securing tonnage.”
Close to a dozen tankers of different sizes were also provisionally booked or fixed to move so-called clean petroleum fuels such as gasoline and diesel from the Gulf Coast to destinations trans-Atlantic, or to other regions such as the Caribbean, Far East and also Brazil, according to the report. The flurry of interest sent rates through the roof on Monday, extending a spike in activity seen late Friday.
The shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline has caused supply dislocations all across the Gulf Coast, as well as North- and South-Eastern America. Rising stockpiles are prompting refineries along the Gulf Coast to snap up tankers for floating storage and exports — with some mulling run rate cuts — even as fuel flows from Europe rise opportunistically into the Atlantic Coast.
The widely-referenced TC-14 route for medium-range tankers from the U.S. Gulf Coast to European Continent climbed 54% to 140 worldscale points on Monday. The TC-18 route from Gulf Coast to Brazil also surged, according to SSY.
MR- and LR-size tankers can transport up to 40,000 tons and 90,000 tons of clean petroleum fuels, respectively.
The CEO of Colonial Pipeline said the company plans to reopen the line later this week, but warned state officials that supply shortages could occur nonetheless, according to a person familiar with the discussion. Domestic gasoline futures in the U.S. surged as much as 4.2% on Monday after the shutdown, but pared most of its gains Tuesday.
SINGAPORE — Thousands of wriggling larvae won’t deter this self-declared “urban farmer.”Chua Kai-Ning is one of the founders of Singapore’s first urban insect farm, Insectta — a high-tech farm that rears the black soldier fly to help turn food waste into biomaterials for industrial use.”The black soldier fly is a way to contribute to what we call the circular economy, where we produce things without anything going to waste,” said the 26-year-old, who has a background in English linguistics.Some in Singapore are turning to urban farming in this land-scarce city, as they look for high-tech ways to turn waste into useful resources.Chua is one of them.We are not only reimagining what we farm, but what we get out of the farming process.Chua Kai-NingCo-founder, Insectta”Their superpower is their ability to consume food waste,” she said of the black soldier fly, regularly scooping up a handful of writhing insects with her bare hands throughout the farm visit.”A kilo of larvae can go through four kilograms of waste in just 24 hours,” she said, explaining that pre-consumer food waste — primarily soybean leftovers and spent grain from the beer-brewing industry — is fed to the larvae.But the work doesn’t stop there.Insectta’s co-founder and chief technology officer Phua Jun Wei demonstrating water-soluble melanin derived from their black soldier fly larvae.From the insect farm, the trays of larvae are transported to a laboratory on the other side of the island state. There, biomaterials are extracted from the larvae and used to produce valuable substances for electronics, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, such as chitosan and melanin.The future of urban agriculture, Chua maintained, is in deep technology. Deep tech companies are often start ups founded on scientific and engineering breakthroughs, aimed at harnessing technology to address environmental or societal challenges.”We are not only reimagining what we farm, but what we get out of the farming process.”Pioneers such as Insectta are not the only ones coming up with high-tech ways of farming to cater to a world with evolving needs. Farmers in typically traditional environments are also tapping into technology to bring added value to their fields of specialty.Eco-Ark is one such example. The closed-containment floating fish farm located in the eastern side of Singapore uses seawater that has been optimally treated to farm fish.The farm — an area slightly smaller than two basketball courts — also uses green energy tapped from its solar roof to power about 20% of its farming activities, the company said.The Eco-Ark is a closed-containment floating fish farm located off a Singapore coast, yielding more than 160 tonnes of fish a year.”We produce our own oxygen, we produce our own ozone,” said Leow Ban Tat, CEO of Aquaculture Centre of Excellence, which built Eco-Ark.Open-net fish farms are vulnerable to environmental threats such as plankton blooms, oil spills and warmer waters due to climate change. Unlike these traditional farms, fish on the Eco-Ark are contained in seawater that is filtered and treated to kill pathogens.”As fish grow, they produce a lot of ammonia and nitrates,” he explained, adding that water discharged back to the sea is treated and free of waste.In addition to a water filtration system that improves the mortality of fish reared, the high-tech floating farm is the first in the country to have post-harvest facilities, said Leow.After cleaning and preparing ready-made fish for consumption, the fish bones and fish heads left behind are turned into pellets that can be used as plant fertilizer, ensuring no unnecessary waste.Singapore sets its sights on high-tech farmingTraditionally, urban farms are not known to be energy efficient. Critics say that growing food with the help of high-tech systems to boost artificial farming environments, such as in climate control, raises energy costs.With the challenges of climate change and a growing population, research and development has become a critical to overcoming threats to sustainability with the help of technology. In its latest budget, Singapore set aside 60 million Singapore dollars (about $45.2 million) to encourage farmers to utilize technology. The Agri-Food Cluster Transformation Fund was established in February to help farmers better apply technology to local food production.Separately, more than 23 million Singapore dollars from the Sustainable Urban Food Production grant have been utilized to fund a dozen research and development projects.The goal of sustainability has drawn people like aquaculturist Nick Goh to fish farms like Eco-Ark.”This is actually what I wanted to do. It is not sustainable if we keep on doing fish-netting outside, fishing, fish trawling,” he told CNBC. “So if we have aquaculture in the field, we can actually first sustain the ocean, and second, sustain ourselves in terms of food security wise.”Black soldier fly larvae eating through a tray of pre-consumer food waste.Insectta’s Chua admits it’s not been easy.”Pioneering anything, especially in a deep tech industry, is definitely scary,” Chua said. “But it’s also empowering because you know that you’re the first mover for change.””If we don’t go out there and look for new solutions to current problems such as the food waste crisis, dwindling natural resources, we’re never going to make any headway.”
The shooting happened just after midnight Sunday in Colorado Springs, police said. AP PhotoCOLORADO SPRINGS: Colorado authorities on Monday were investigating why a gunman opened fire at a weekend birthday party, killing his girlfriend and five other adults inside a house trailer before killing himself. The shooting happened just after midnight Sunday in Colorado Springs, police said. Officers arrived at a home trailer to find the six people dead and a man with serious injuries who died later at a hospital, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported. The suspected shooter was the boyfriend of a female victim at the party attended by friends, family and children. He walked inside and opened fire before shooting himself, police said. The birthday party was for one of the people killed, police said. Neighbor Yenifer Reyes told The Denver Post she woke to the sound of many gunshots. “I thought it was a thunderstorm,” Reyes said. “Then I started hearing sirens.” Police brought children out of the trailer and put them into at least one patrol car, she said, adding that the children were “crying hysterically.” The children, who weren’t hurt in the attack, have been placed with relatives, police said. Police on Sunday hadn’t released the identities of the shooter or victims and said the motive wasn’t immediately known. “My heart breaks for the families who have lost someone they love and for the children who have lost their parents,” Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski said in a statement. It was Colorado’s worst mass shooting since a gunman killed 10 people at a Boulder supermarket March 22. “The tragic shooting in Colorado Springs is devastating,” Gov. Jared Polis said Sunday, “especially as many of us are spending the day celebrating the women in our lives who have made us the people we are today.” Colorado Springs, population 465,000, is Colorado’s second-biggest city after Denver. In 2015, a man shot three people to death at random before dying in a shootout with police in Colorado Springs on Halloween. Less than a month later, a man killed three people, including a police officer, and injured eight others in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in the city. FacebookTwitterLinkedinEMail
More than 100 people apply for asylum, as concern mounts over the conflict in Tigray.
Investigating Russia’s turbulent past can still bring trouble under Putin’s watch.
Glasgow, Scotland – Scotland’s ruling party secured an unprecedented fourth successive term in government on Saturday after cruising to victory in the Scottish parliamentary election.
The pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) took 64 of the 129 seats up for grabs, just one short of an overall majority, with its nearest rivals, the unionist Scottish Conservatives, taking 31.
The result, which also saw the pro-independence Scottish Green Party secure eight seats, could pave the way for a second referendum on Scottish independence.
Voters across Scotland went to the polls on May 6, but coronavirus restrictions meant that tallying began later than normal.
Counting on the constituency part of the two-section ballot started on Friday, but not until Saturday evening, when the so-called regional lists were also allocated, were the full figures known.
The result means that, just as has been the case for the last 10 years, parties in favour of Scotland becoming a sovereign state outnumber parties which advocate remaining in the United Kingdom.
The SNP, headed by its leader and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, has now won four of the Scottish Parliament’s past six elections ever since the devolved legislative body was established in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, in 1999.
This was Sturgeon’s second Scottish Parliamentary victory in her seven years at the helm of the SNP, and will be seen as a vote of confidence in her premiership.
“There is something about the SNP’s mixture of cautious centre-leftness, public duty and Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership that voters like,” Gerry Hassan, a high-profile Scottish political commentator and author, told Al Jazeera.
“It’s no accident that she’s had huge personal opinion poll ratings consistently.”
🏴 The people of Scotland have spoken – it’s an SNP landslide.
✅ Highest number of votes✅ Highest number of constituency seats ever✅ Highest vote share ever in a Scottish election
👇 Once we rebuild Scotland from COVID, there will be an independence referendum. pic.twitter.com/k5Oq4hndh1
— The SNP (@theSNP) May 8, 2021
But wrangling over Scottish independence, rather than domestic policies, appeared once more to drive voters to the ballot box.
Scots rejected independence from the British state by 55 to 45 per cent in a referendum in 2014, but recent opinion polls have seen support for Scottish sovereignty often matching or exceeding support for the Union, and voting preferences have long been tied to Scotland’s constitutional future, especially since Scotland opted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union in Britain’s 2016 Brexit referendum.
“We have a fresh mandate – the people have voted the SNP in and we will have another referendum because that’s democracy,” SNP candidate Roza Salih, who narrowly missed out on securing a seat on the regional list part of the ballot, told Al Jazeera.
The pro-EU SNP has committed to holding another plebiscite once the current COVID crisis is over.
With the Scottish Greens, the SNP has the numbers to win a vote on the matter in the newly elected chamber, just as the party did in the previous parliament.
But the UK’s Conservative Party Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to sanction another referendum, with the constitution a reserved matter for the Westminster Government in London, and a tense standoff between the two administrations began even before all the votes were counted.
“We would proceed with the legislation that is necessary, and that would only happen if it was passed by the Scottish Parliament,” Sturgeon told the media.
“If [Johnson] wanted to stop that it would be the case that he would have to go to the Supreme Court to challenge it – and that would be his decision, not mine.”
“What [the SNP and Sturgeon] are looking for is a fight,” Kevin Hague, a Scotland-based entrepreneur, pro-UK campaigner and chairman of These Islands, a pro-union think-tank, told Al Jazeera.
“Because that’s how their grievance machine works. [Sturgeon] does not want an independence referendum any time soon because the people don’t want it and frankly she’d lose it.”
Despite Scotland’s mixed voting system making it enormously difficult to do so, Sturgeon will be disappointed not to have secured an outright majority for her party – something the SNP did in 2011.
But, with a renewed – and hefty – mandate from a record high turnout, the Scottish first minister will likely feel emboldened as she looks ahead to another five-year term in office.
She will also look to put behind her controversies surrounding her predecessor as both SNP leader and first minister, Alex Salmond, which threatened to destroy her premiership.
Once committed friends and allies, Sturgeon and Salmond’s relationship sensationally and publicly broke down after the latter was accused of sexually assaulting several women.
Salmond was acquitted by an Edinburgh court early last year, but Sturgeon has distanced herself from her former mentor whose own attempt to re-enter the Scottish political arena with his newly established pro-independence Alba Party hit the buffers after it failed to win any seats.
Arresting Scotland’s worsening drug crisis, as well as steering the constituent nation out of the current coronavirus pandemic, will be high on the list of Sturgeon’s priorities during her new term in office.
But, as ever, Scotland’s constitutional future will remain front and centre as Edinburgh and London gear up for what will likely be a very bitter showdown.
Two Dutch ministers have submitted an amendment to parliament that would scrap the age limit and expert statement, to simplify changing gender on birth certificates, following pressure from transgender groups.
The legislative amendment to the Transgender Act was submitted by the legal protection minister and emancipation minister to the Lower House of Parliament. “Persons whose gender identity does not correspond to the sex determined at birth can, under certain conditions, change their gender in the birth certificate,” a release published on the website of the Dutch government says.According to the statement, more people want to change their gender registration, with the numbers rising from 460 in 2016 to 640 in 2018. The amendment was put forward in order “to do justice to the emancipation of transgender people.”The ministers suggest scrapping the requirement for an expert statement in which a doctor or psychologist establishes the fact of a lasting conviction of belonging to the opposite sex. The statement says transgender groups consider this requirement to be a violation of the right of individuals to self-determination. The simplified procedure would involve written submission of the desire to change gender registration, and confirmation four to 12 weeks later.
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The proposed legislation would also scrap the age limit, so that children under the age of 16 can change their gender registration. This is being done as a nod to transgender groups and parents who say that some young people already live with a gender other than that designated at birth before they reach 16. In order to change their gender registration, children would have to submit a request to the court.The legislation would also allow changes in registration to be done at the place of current residence, rather than the place of birth.The bill will have to be approved by both houses of the Dutch Parliament and then signed into law by the head of state.The procedures for changing gender on birth certificates were introduced in 2014 with the Transgender Act. The legislation also abolished the requirement for people to undergo surgery, including sterilization, to legally change their gender.Last December, the Dutch government agreed to pay compensation of €5,000 to about 2,000 trans people who were sterilized between 1985 and 2014 in order to change gender.The Dutch government states that it is committed to improving the position of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people worldwide. The Netherlands has some of the most progressive laws regarding LGBTI rights in the world. Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!
The top international official in Bosnia is warning that ethnic Serb leaders are making a concerted effort to split the country, or failing that to roll back many reforms achieved during the last 25 years