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The Trump administration is tightening the rules for companies that contract out high-skilled workers who are in this country on H-1B visas.The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency issued a new policy memo on Thursday that requires "detailed statements of work or work orders" about the work that will be performed when an H-1B visa worker is employed at a third-party work site. Employers will have to file more details that support the need for foreign talent.H-1B visas are controversial. American tech companies use them to hire highly skilled foreign workers, such as engineers, IT specialists, architects among others, in situations in which they say there is a shortage of U.S.-born talent. The visas are good for three years and renewable for another three-year term.Critics of the visas — 85,000 of which are issued every year — say American workers are aced out of competition with workers who can be paid less.As CNN reports, "Indian outsourcing firms will be the hardest hit. Indian workers receive more than 70% of all H-1B visas."The USCIS memo says that if a visa beneficiary will be placed at one or more third-party worksites, the employer "has specific and non-speculative qualifying assignments in a specialty occupation for the beneficiary for the entire time requested in the petition; and the employer will maintain an employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary for the duration of the requested validity period."The memo says USCIS recognizes that visa-holders may wind up earning less money than promised or might perform "non-specialty" jobs when they are contracted out to third-party worksites.The policy change comes as the Trump administration has signaled its desire to change the visa program with a "Buy American, Hire American" policy outlined in an executive order signed in April 2017. The order promised to root out fraud and abuse in the program.As the Mercury News reports, the H-1B program has come under intense federal scrutiny."A Bay Area News Group report earlier this week found a sharp rise in the number of reviews immigration officials were conducting on H-1B applications. From January to August 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sent 85,265 requests for evidence in response to H-1B visa applications, a 45 percent increase compared to the same period a year earlier, agency data show. Such requests are made when an application is missing required documents or when the agency determines it needs more proof to decide if a worker is eligible for the visa. Immigration lawyers say the extra enforcement could discourage companies and individuals from seeking an H-1B visa in the first place."Let's block ads! (Why?) [...]
Sat, Feb 24, 2018
Source: Headlines -NPR Category: TOP NEWS
Enlarge this image Nikolas Cruz appears in court for a status hearing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mike Stocker/AP hide captiontoggle caption Mike Stocker/AP Newly released tapes and logs of 911 calls show that police had responded to at least two dozen incidents of violent or disruptive behavior over 10 years by the 19-year-old suspect in the fatal shootings of 17 students and staff at a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last week.On November 29 of last year, Nikolas Cruz called 911 himself in Palm Beach County to report that someone "attacked me and said they were going to gut me."In a 5 ½ minute call, Cruz say, "I kind of got made and I started punching walls and stuff and then a kid came at me and threw me on the ground, and he started attacking me and kicked me out of the house."In another call, a woman, whose name was redacted, describes an altercation between her adult son and Cruz. She also said she's worried that Cruz is going to get a gun, "because that's all he wants is his gun, and that's all he cares about is his gun."The Miami Herald and other news organizations identify the caller as 42-year-old Roxanne Deschamps, who had taken in Cruz and his younger brother, Zachary, after their mother died earlier that month.Those two calls are just part of the story authorities are piecing together about the troubled history of the alleged shooter and how various government agencies and school officials failed to effectively intervene before the shooting last week.Meanwhile, the Broward Sheriff's office released records dating back 10 years documenting contacts it had with Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old suspect. The records released are logs of 23 separate 911 calls, including 15 calls made by his now-deceased mother, Linda Cruz, reporting disputes and disturbances involving Cruz between November 2008 and June 2014. Several other calls were made by third parties beginning in February 2016 through November 2017.The Sheriff's Office's response to two of the calls is under investigation by its Internal Affairs unit.On February 5, 2016, deputies received a call summarized as:"Third hand information from the neighbor's son that Nikolas Cruz planned to shoot up the school on Instagram (Picture of Juvenile with guns.) One month time delay. Unknown high school. Cruz lives in area."The log says that the deputy made contact with the anonymous caller. Upon learning that Cruz possessed knives and a BB gun, that information was "forwarded to Stoneman Douglas School Resource Officer."On November 30, 2017, another call was logged:"Caller advised subject Nikolas Cruz is collecting guns and knives. Cruz wants to join the Army. Concerned he will kill himself one day and believes he could be a school shooter in the making. Caller advised Cruz was no longer living at the listed parkland address and is now living Lake Worth, FL. Believes the weapons are kept at a friend's house at an unknown location."The log says that the deputy contacted the caller located in Massachusetts via telephone. "No report was initiated...Deputy advised her referred the caller to the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office."On Thursday, Sheriff Scott Israel announced that two of his deputies are on restrictive duty pending an investigation into whether they followed policy in responding to 911 calls about the alleged shooter.Let's block ads! (Why?) [...]
Sat, Feb 24, 2018
Source: Headlines -NPR Category: TOP NEWS
Enlarge this image A vendor in Lagos pushes his cart past a tray of garri, a powdery foodstuff made from cassava that can be eaten or drunk. During dry season, rats scavenge for food and can spread Lassa fever by defecating or urinating in foods like garri. Pius Utomi Ekpei /AFP/Getty Images hide captiontoggle caption Pius Utomi Ekpei /AFP/Getty Images Nigeria is tough on diseases.With help from a few partners, it stopped Ebola's spread. It wrestled guinea-worm disease into a headlock, with no new cases since 2013. And it's nearly eradicated the transmission of polio.But now a disease that usually just lurks in the background has roared into headlines. Since the beginning of the year, there's been a particularly large outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria's southern provinces.As of February 18, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reports 913 cases of Lassa fever and 73 deaths. That's compared with 733 cases and 71 deaths in all of 2017."Everyone is scared," says Oyewale Tomori, a retired professor of virology who chairs the Lassa Fever Eradication Committee of Nigeria.Lassa fever, named for the Nigerian town where it was discovered in 1969, generally breaks out during the dry season, between October and early March. It's not clear why this year's outbreak is bigger than usual.So along with treating the mounting numbers of patients, Nigeria is trying to prevent the disease's spread. The NCDC is following up with 1,747 people who encountered patients ill with Lassa fever to try to diagnose cases early and prevent more infections.The World Health Organization has also stepped in. "The high number of Lassa fever cases is concerning. We are observing an unusually high number of cases for this time of year," Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu, WHO representative to Nigeria, said in a statement. WHO has sent 20 people to Nigeria to support NCDC and shipped 40 boxes of face masks and goggles to hospitals to protect anyone in close contact with patients, says Tarik Jasarevic, a WHO spokesperson.True to its name, Lassa fever starts out with a fever, along with a general feeling of weakness. Symptoms come on gradually and can include headache, sore throat, muscle and chest pain, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing and stomach pain.The most severe cases can cause facial swelling, fluid in the lungs and bleeding from the mouth, nose, vagina or gastrointestinal tract.Of patients who are hospitalized, 10 to 15 percent die from the virus. But many people contract the Lassa virus and develop antibodies against it without becoming ill.The seasonal outbreaks reflect the source of the disease: It's a virus that jumps from the rat Mastomys natalensis to humans. West Africa's dry winters push rodents closer to people to scavenge for food. Virus-carrying rats may defecate or urinate in grains and other food; people can pick up the virus from contact with contaminated products. The virus can also spread between people via bodily fluids.And there are a lot of rats – which means there's a lot of potential for outbreaks, says Lina Moses, a global health researcher at Tulane University. "If you compare this to the Ebola epidemic from 2014-2016, that likely came from one animal to spill over into the human population," Moses says. "So in terms of control [Lassa fever] is much more challenging."Nigeria isn't the only country that's worried. The rats that spread Lassa fever are native to many regions of West Africa. Nigeria's news has pushed Ghana's Health Services to caution health-care providers about Lassa fever, but no cases have appeared there. On February 8, Guinea reported the first death from Lassa fever since 1996. The Guinean victim, who didn't appear to infect anyone else, died after traveling into Liberia – a reminder of how easily diseases can cross borders.A general uptick in Lassa fever cases isn't totally surprising, Moses says. The Ebola epidemic led to improved labs and diagnostic testing across West Africa. Doctors use the same blood tests to identify Ebola as they do for Lassa fever.But better diagnostics don't entirely explain the 2018 caseload. With about a month left in the dry season, reported cases have increased each week so far.The faster diagnoses do, however, give health workers a chance to start the treatment that generally works against Lassa fever — IV infusions of the antiviral drug Ribavirin. That works best when administered within the first six days of the fever's onset.The IV treatment requires patients to stay in a hospital for around a week, which puts health-care workers at risk of infection. In the current outbreak, 18 health-care workers have been diagnosed with Lassa fever, and four have died. To protect Nigerians, health officials are urging people to keep food in sealed containers so rats can't get to it and to keep garbage as far from homes as possible to keep rats away.Moses is concerned that the rise in cases could be part of a trend. In a paper she published in 2016, she looked at the way the rat that carries Lassa fever interacts with humans. Examining data on climate change, population growth and land use, she suggests that the annual number of Lassa fever cases could potentially [...]
Fri, Feb 23, 2018
Source: Headlines -NPR Category: TOP NEWS