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US to impose Visa Restrictions for Pregnant Women –– restricting “Birth Tourism”

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The Trump administration revealed on Thursday new visa restrictions that will crack down on “birth tourism. The applicants will have to prove they are coming for medical treatment and they have the money to pay for it.

Visa applicants deemed by consular officers to be coming to the US primarily to give birth will now be treated like other foreigners coming to the US for medical treatment, according to State Department guidance sent Wednesday and viewed by The Associated Press.

The State Department planned to publicize the rules Thursday, according to two officials with knowledge of the plans who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity. The rules will take effect Friday, Jan 24.

The practice of travelling to the US to give birth is fundamentally legal, although there are scattered cases of authorities arresting operators of birth tourism agencies for visa fraud or tax evasion. And women are often honest about their intentions when applying for visas and even show signed contracts with doctors and hospitals.

President Donald Trump’s administration has been restricting all forms of immigration, but Trump has been particularly plagued by the issue of birthright citizenship — anyone born in the US is considered a citizen, under the Constitution. The Republican president has railed against the practice and threatened to end it, but scholars and members of his administration have said it’s not so easy to do.

Regulating tourist visas for pregnant women is one way to get at the issue, but it raises questions about how officers would determine whether a woman is pregnant to begin with and whether a woman could get turned away by border officers who suspect she may be just by looking at her.

Consular officers don’t have the right to ask during visa interviews whether a woman is pregnant or intends to become so. But they would have to determine whether a visa applicant would be coming to the US primarily to give birth.

Birth tourism is a lucrative business in both the US and abroad. American companies take out advertisements and charge up to $80,000 to facilitate the practice, offering hotel rooms and medical care. Many of the women travel from Russia and  China to give birth in the US has been cracking down on the practice since before Trump took office.

There are no figures on how many foreign women travel to the US specifically to give birth. The Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates for stricter immigration laws, estimated that in 2012, about 36,000 foreign-born women gave birth in the US, then left the country.

The draft rule is “intended to address the national security and law enforcement risks associated with birth tourism, including criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry,” a State Department spokesperson said. 

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U.S. Passengers released from Quarantined Cruise Ship in Japan

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The United States has reportedly evacuated its citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan on Monday morning after they had been quarantined for more than a week in the Japanese port city of Yokohama. 

Other nations are preparing to follow suit as global concerns heighten over the spread of the deadly disease with a death toll of 1,700 at its Chinese epicenter.

Fourteen people who tested positive for the coronavirus were among the more than 300 American citizens and family members evacuated by plane from the quarantined ship, the US State Department revealed Monday.

More than 70,500 have been infected across China by the COVID-19 virus as the world battles to contain the outbreak that has sparked panic buying and jitters over the global economic impact.

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Twitter holds online Block Party for Nancy Pelosi after shredding Trump’s speech

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it more than clear what she thinks of President Trump as she literally tore up the commander in chief’s State of the Union address on national TV at the conclusion of his remarks Tuesday night.

When asked afterward why she shredded her copy of the speech, Pelosi responded, “Because it was the courteous thing to do, considering the alternatives.”

“What we saw today was the manifestation of hatred,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. “That hatred consumes any other sentiment they may have.”

Analysts on the Fox News Channel weighed in on Pelosi’s ripping up the speech in the aftermath of the event.

Sean Hannity called it “one of the most classless things ever to be done in the history of the State of the Union. … I want to buy that [torn-up speech]. If anyone has it, I’ll pay for it.”

“She plain doesn’t like him,” Chris Wallace said.

“Is she genuinely perpetually frustrated?” asked Brit Hume.

Dana Perino noted, “There were names of American citizens who have died in there.”

Sara Carter explained: “What the Democrats did was stunning and disgraceful, and they’re going to pay for it in 2020.”

At the commencement of the evening, Pelosi offered to shake Trump’s hand as he gave her the speech, but the president did not return his hand. It was unclear if he did not see her offer of a handshake.

Regardless of the backlash Pelosi’s received from the right-wing clan, we can’t ignore the online celebration Twitter’s holding in her honor, and she’s been a trending topic ever since.

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UPDATED: Kobe Bryant dead at 41; daughter Gianna Maria also killed

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According to TMZ, Kobe Bryant has reportedly died from a fatal helicopter crash in Calabasas Sunday morning.

Kobe, 41, was traveling with at least 3 other passengers in his private helicopter before the plane crashed, sparking a fire.

The outlet confirmed with emergency personnel that their are no survivors left behind. Five people are confirmed dead, not including his wife Vanessa Bryant.

5-time NBA champion is survived by his wife Vanessa, and their four daughters — Gianna, Natalia and Bianca and their newborn Capri.

Per TMZ:

Kobe’s daughter Gianna Maria Onore — aka GiGi — was also on board the helicopter and died in the crash … reps for Kobe tell TMZ Sports. She was 13.

We’re told they were on their way to the Mamba Academy for a basketball practice when the crash occurred. The Academy is in nearby Thousand Oaks.

Stay tuned for updates. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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