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US allows hundreds of Somalis to stay until at least March 2020

The homeland security department renewed, but did not redesignate, temporary protected status for Somalis

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “US allows hundreds of Somalis to stay until at least March 2020” was written by Amanda Holpuch in New York, for theguardian.com on Thursday 19th July 2018 21.32 UTC

Nearly 500 Somalis who escaped terrorism and drought will be allowed to remain in the US until at least March 2020, the US homeland security department announced on Thursday.

Concerns had been raised that the administration would cancel the temporary protected status (TPS) program for Somalis because of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and the decision to end TPS status for more than 428,250 others. But the DHS granted them permission to stay temporarily, owing to the “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary conditions” in Somalia.

This decision is a relief for TPS holders such as Yasir, who fled Somalia after being kidnapped and tortured by the al-Qaida-affiliated extremist group al-Shabaab. “I’m scared of going back to Somalia and being killed by al-Shabaab,” Yasir told the Guardian.

Yasir, 29, said that in 2008, he was walking in Mogadishu when two men came up behind him and hit him. He was knocked unconscious. He woke up in a room with the two men, who he said identified themselves as members of al-Shabaab and tried to coerce him into joining their group.

“They told me if I don’t work with them, they will kill me and they know where I live,” Yasir said.

He went into hiding while he tried to find a way out, occasionally dressing in women’s clothes and covering his face in disguise.

An aunt eventually gave him money so he could pay someone to get him out. He doesn’t know how long it took him to get to the US, which he did by traveling through several countries before crossing the border in 2009.

“I was happy to be alive,” Yasir said. “I was happy to be somewhere where justice means something.”

He lived in the US undocumented until 2012, when Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was redesignated for Somalia. TPS protects foreign nationals already in the US when civil unrest, violence or natural disasters erupt in their home country.

TPS can either be redesignated, which allows a new group of people to apply for it; renewed, with allows people who already have it to stay longer; or terminated, which typically gives people more than a year to find a way to stay in the US or leave.

The homeland security department renewed, but did not redesignate, TPS for Somalis on Thursday. The homeland security department said in a statement it made this decision because the “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that support Somalia’s current designation for TPS continue to exist”.

With TPS, instead of living in the shadows, Yasir was able to work, get a driver’s license and open a bank account.

He is now married to a US citizen and has a seven-year-old American son. He said he doesn’t know what has happened to his family and friends in Somalia, and whether they are dead or alive.

“I’ve seen countries losing TPS and I’ve been scared I’m going to lose mine and be deported back home,” Yasir said.

The Trump administration has unleashed a torrent of measures to slow immigration and remove people from the US, including terminating TPS for six of the 10 countries covered by it when he took office.

This has left more than 428,250 people from countries including Nicaragua, El Salvador and Sudan forced to find a way to stay in the US or return to their home country as early as December of this year.

TPS has been extended for more than 8,100 people from South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The president insulted the largest Somali American community, in Minnesota, two days before being elected president. “Everybody’s reading about the disaster taking place in Minnesota,” Trump said at a rally in November 2017.

Despite the escalating conflict with al-Shabaab, and the terrorist group’s targeting of people who return to the country, the US has dramatically increased deportations there since late 2016. In fiscal year 2016, 198 Somalis were deported, rising to 521 in 2017.

And in December, more than 90 Somali men and women were held shackled on an airplane for nearly 48 hours during a failed attempt to deport them from the US that went as far Dakar, Senegal, before returning to the US.

There have been bipartisan efforts in the House and Senate to encourage the homeland security department to redesignate and extend TPS for Somalia. Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, and Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, sent a letter on Monday to the homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, and the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, urging them to extend the protection. The senators wrote: “Conditions in Somalia remain dire, and armed conflict continues to be a threat to the Somali people.”

  • Yasir’s name has been changed to protect his identity

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Legendary singer Aretha Franklin dies at age 76

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Legendary singer Aretha Franklin has died.

The 76-year-old Queen of Soul was said to be “surrounded” by her closest friends and family in recent days, after battling extensive health problems in recent years.

The legendary singer was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, and delivered her most recent performance at the Elton John AIDS Foundation party in New York last November.

This is a Breaking News Story.

Timeline:
1954 – Sings her first solo at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit.

1956 – Along with her two sisters, performs backup on her father’s gospel recording for Gotham Records.

1960 – Leaves Detroit for New York, signs with Columbia Records and releases first album, “The Great Aretha Franklin.”

1967 – Leaves Columbia Records after an unsuccessful attempt at developing a jazz style; signs with Atlantic Records; wins Grammy Award Best R&B Recording for “Respect.”

1967-1974 – Wins a total of ten Grammy Awards.

April 9, 1968 – Sings “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 20, 1977 – Performs “God Bless America” at the inauguration gala of President Jimmy Carter.

1980 – Appears in the movie “The Blues Brothers” and performs the song “Think”; leaves Atlantic Records for Arista Records.

1981 – Wins Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for “Hold On I’m Comin’.”

1985 – Wins Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for “Freeway Of Love.”

January 3, 1987 – Is the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

1987 – Wins two Grammy Awards for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for “Aretha” and Best R&B Performance by a Duo, with George Michael, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me).”

1988 – Wins Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance, Female for “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.”

1991 – Receives the Grammy Legend Award.

January 20, 1993 – Performs “I Dreamed a Dream” at the inauguration ball of President Bill Clinton.

1994 – Receives the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the youngest recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor at that time.

1997 – Performs an aria from Puccini’s La Boheme at the wedding of Vice-President Al Gore’s daughter, Karenna.

February 6, 1998 – Reprises her roll of Mrs. Murphy from “The Blues Brothers” in the sequel “The Blues Brothers 2000.”

February 25, 1998 – Substitutes for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti at the Grammy Awards performing “Nessun Dorma” by Puccini, unrehearsed.

September 1, 1999 – Publishes an autobiography “Aretha: From These Roots,” where she discusses her private and personal life for the first time.

September 22, 1999 – Is named a winner of the National Medal of Arts by the National Endowment for the Arts.

2003 – Wins Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for “Wonderful.”

March 2004 – Is hospitalized and released for allergic reaction to antibiotics.

2004 – Starts her own record label, Aretha’s Records.

2005 – Wins Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for “A House Is Not A Home.”

November 5, 2005 – Is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.

2006 – After Franklin points out that no Motown talent was appearing in the Detroit Super Bowl halftime show, the NFL asks her to sing the national anthem along with Aaron Neville prior to the game.

2007 – Wins Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance for “Never Gonna Break My Faith,” shared with Mary J. Blige.

February 10, 2008 – Is Grammy’s 2008 MusiCares Person of the Year.

February 14, 2008 – Receives the NAACP Vanguard Award at the annual Image Awards ceremony.

January 20, 2009 – Performs “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

February 2010 – A Snickers commercial starring Franklin and Liza Minnelli airs for the first time.

July 27, 2010 – Appears on stage with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on piano, in Philadelphia, to raise money for charity. Rice is a classical pianist. They perform individually and together, classical, pop and patriotic selections.

August 1, 2010 – Falls in her home, breaking two ribs. The incident forces her to cancel concert appearances for August.

February 25, 2011 – During an interview with Wendy Williams, Franklin reveals a loss of 85 lbs. The ailment that resulted in surgery in December remains undisclosed and a topic of conversation she dismisses with the comment, “I’ve left that behind, I’m feeling wonderful.”

May 3, 2011 – Releases new album, “Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love.”

October 8, 2014  Achieves a milestone in music history by becoming the first female to earn her 100th hit on Billboard’s Hot R&B song chart with “Rolling in the Deep (The Aretha Version).”

October 21, 2014 – Releases a new album, “Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics.”

March 5, 2015 – Performs live on the Motown themed episode of American Idol in Detroit.

September 26, 2015 – Franklin sings “Amazing Grace” at the Festival of Families, one of the events sponsored by the Vatican for Pope Francis‘ visit to Philadelphia.

February 7, 2017 – Franklin announces she will retire from performing in concert after the release of one more album. “I am retiring this year, she told a local television station in Detroit. “I will be recording, but this will be my last year in concert.”

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Car crashes into security barriers outside Houses Of Parliament

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 Armed police surround driver after car smashes into Parliament security barriers

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Kremlin “pleased” with Helsinki summit, US and Western intelligence assesses

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CNN Reports:

Russian officials were “pleased” with the Helsinki summit between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, US and Western intelligence agencies have found, according to two intelligence sources with knowledge of the assessments.

The assessments, based on a broad range of intelligence, indicate that the Kremlin believes the July 16 summit delivered a better outcome than it had expected, but that Moscow is perplexed that Trump is not delivering more Russia-friendly policies in its aftermath.

The intelligence sources say the Russians were particularly satisfied with the press conference the two leaders gave in Helsinki after Trump and Putin met for about two hours without staff and accompanied only by translators. In the 45-minute press conference, Trump discredited US intelligence and American policies more broadly, saying “the United States has been foolish” about ties with Russia, a country that has engaged in ongoing attacks on US democracy.

A spokesperson for the Office of Director of National Intelligence declined to comment, and the White House did not respond to request for comment.

The administration’s decision last week to impose sanctions on Russia for the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter left Russian officials puzzled that the President is not delivering more favorable policies.

Trump has repeatedly called for warmer relations with Moscow, but the Kremlin is neglecting to factor in the considerable role that Congress and others play in US policy-making, a Western intelligence official said.

Putin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov’s comments last week reflected the deflated Russian hopes for improved ties with Washington or at least less punitive US policies.

“President Putin said in Helsinki that Russia still has hopes for the creation of a constructive relationship with Washington…We are sorry that often we are not met with cooperation on this account,” Peskov said Aug. 9 in a regular press call with reporters.

Peskov’s comments contrasted sharply with the evaluation Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered immediately after the summit, when he said that the talks had been “better than super.”

Trump’s performance in Helsinki sparked unusually public criticism, even from within his own party.

The administration’s decision to impose the sanctions followed a July 26 letter from GOP Congressman Ed Royce, the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, urging the White House to comply with a law requiring the US to levy sanctions against countries that violate the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act.

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