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The World Today

A Controversial war on fentanyl

San Francisco - Kenneth Ray Russworm says he regrets ever taking fentanyl. The San Francisco native tried the synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin while living in a homeless shelter after his mother died last year and hasn’t been able to stop using it since.


"I ain’t never had a type of drug that had such a hold on me," Russworm, 43, a father of seven, said, crouching beside tents that serve as homes. In his hand he holds the tinfoil he uses to smoke the drug that has taken over his life.

Fentanyl struck the East Coast of the United States first, driving up the number of drug-related deaths and hitting San Francisco in full force at the start of the Covid pandemic. Last year, the city had the second highest overdose rate among US cities, after Philadelphia. In the first half of the year in San Francisco, 406 people died of accidental overdoses and more than three out of four deaths involved fentanyl.


The crisis cuts across class, race and geography, in a wealthy, largely quiet city. But nearly one in five deaths this year occurred in the Tenderloin, a low-income community near City Hall. This is where the problems are most visible, with some pavements clogged with people selling drugs or in fentanyl-induced stupors.

Al Jazeera

The Yemenis trapped between war and us extreme vetting

New York City - Under dim lights in her apartment, Khulood Nasher clutched two winter coats, with the price tags still on, for her sons trapped in Yemen's war. The last time she saw them, Omar was 13 and Rami 14 years old. That was seven years ago.

"I'm not sure if maybe I'll still be alive when I see them again," Nasher said as her voice wavered. "I really give up."

Years after applying to reunite with their mother, Rami and Omar had a visa interview at the US embassy in Djibouti last winter.

Nasher rushed to buy the coats to ensure that her sons didn't catch a cold after they stepped off the plane in New York.

Two weeks later, President Donald Trump's executive order banned citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Yemen, and pushed for extreme vetting on visa applications. second ban in June blocked only those without a bona fide US relationship like a family tie, work contract or university admission. The third version, targeting citizens from six of the original countries plus North Korea, Chad, and Venezuela, was temporarily blocked by a federal court in October. But earlier this month, the US Supreme Court ruled to let the government enforce the most recent ban while lower courts debate its legality.

The White House maintains that the ban is intended to target countries that have not provided enough information to allow for the proper vetting of travellers, but rights groups say it disproportionately targets Muslims. 


And while Nasher's sons - as the family members of a permanent resident who won asylum - do not fall under the travel ban, they still face extreme vetting procedures and lengthy delays under what legal experts and advocates have called a "ban beyond the ban".

Al Jazeera 

In Trump's America, Yemeni-American women are coming to the forefront as activists and community leaders.

Meet One Woman Behind the Bodega Strike

Meet One Woman Behind the Bodega Strike

The intercept

Yemenis Thought They'd Won The Visa Lottery.

Then Came Trump's Muslim Ban.

In March, Abdullah Fadhel left his family in war-wrecked Yemen, traveled overnight by bus through military checkpoints, and flew to Malaysia on a promise: He was eligible to receive a U.S. green card. Seven months and $12,000 later, he’s still waiting, stranded because of President Donald Trump’s travel bans.

Fadhel had been selected in the annual “diversity visa” lottery – last year, 19 million people applied for 50,000 green cards reserved for citizens from countries with low immigration to the United States. Being chosen in the lottery doesn’t guarantee a visa, but the immigration system generally promises applicants a fair chance and timely response in a maximum of 60 days after they have an interview, according to the State Department.

This year, however, for at least 95 applicants from countries listed on Trump’s travel bans, including Yemen, the State Department did not respond to their applications for months. While their paperwork languished, the available visas for this fiscal year ran out. Beginning in late September, Fadhel and dozens of other Yemeni applicants received letters from the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur stating that the visa cap had been reached. They were out of luck.


Asylum seekers linger longer behind bars

The night that an anti-gay mob burned a man to death on a street corner in Togo, Hafizou Issifou knew he had to flee his homeland, where homosexuality is illegal. The news came from his sister, who texted him a picture of the victim: I think it was your boyfriend, Razak, she wrote. Then Issifou heard that his uncle wanted to kill him as well. He hid in a friend’s house for a year until he received a U.S. tourist visa.

Issifou arrived at JFK airport on March 6 and asked for asylum. Authorities sent him to Elizabeth Detention Facility in New Jersey — where he slept in a room with 43 other detainees for five and a half months, working in the kitchen for a dollar a day, not able to go outside.

A volunteer attorney explained to Issifou that he was eligible to apply for parole under Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy. He applied in May, but was denied a month later without an interview or an explanation.

“I was completely desperate,” 28-year-old Issifou said in a recent interview. “I knew I couldn’t go back, because I knew that if I went back, they were going to kill me.”



New Delhi: One night in January 2015, Rovin Sharma left his house to buy water wearing trousers, a baggy sweater, heels and a bindi. It was normal attire for the bearded and lipsticked Sharma, who identifies as neither male nor female.

At 12:30 am, the streets around Kamla Nagar in north Delhi were deserted except for two men in a car at the end of the lane. When the men caught sight of Sharma, they got out and started running after the then 20-year-old. Sharma didn’t know why, but could guess after hearing the story of a gay student raped and killed at Delhi University years back.

“They wanted to assault me because I’m an easy catch,” Sharma said.

Muslim Protesters Dismiss Modi’s Cow Violence Criticism as Hollow

New Delhi: Just three days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the lynchings in the name of protecting cows, a sea of white-clothed Muslim protesters flooded Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, unsatisfied with his criticism and demanding justice for the victims.

“It is a political statement. It doesn’t have any interest for the people. They who are lynching are members of the ruling parties,” said social activist Afzal Ahmad. “No action will be taken. They are taking political benefit from it.”

High Court Questions Centre on Marital Rape: ‘How Do You Justify The Exception?’

The Delhi high court on Tuesday asked the Centre to provide justification for the exception under section 375 that allows a man to rape his wife if she is more than 15 years old, a law challenged as unconstitutional by three civil petitions.

“How do you justify the exception?” acting chief justice Gita Mittal asked advocate R.K. Kapoor, representing the Union of India, before the packed courtroom.

The three petitions were filed against the Union of India by an NGO, the RIT Foundation, the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) and marital rape victim Khusboo Saifi. They challenge section 375, exception 2 as unconstitutional, inhumane and out of sync with the world, where a range of countries from Nepal in South Asia to the United States and Britain criminalise marital rape.

voices of new york

As Trump Arms Saudis To Bomb Yemen, Yemeni-Americans Conflicted and Afraid to Speak Up

Sarah Al-Silwi never felt ashamed of being American until she set foot for the first time in her parents’ war-ravaged home country – Yemen. In August 2016, she remembers, her cousin pointed at each demolished house on the road from the capital city to her grandmother’s village. 


“This is the one that the rebel Houthis bombed, this is the one that the Saudis bombed,” Al-Silwi recalled her cousin saying. “And also, your country, America, is killing us. The bombs that are being brought to Yemen are American bombs.” 

Al-Silwi, a 17-year-old born and raised in the Bronx, refused to believe him until she learned the facts. The United States transferred $115 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia from 2009 to 2016, according to the Center for International Policy. On May 20, President Donald Trump sealed another $110 billion deal on his visit to Saudi Arabia, the first foreign trip of his presidency. 


The sale further embroils the U.S. in Yemen’s complex conflict. In early 2015, the rebel Houthis and ousted dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh overthrew the elected president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Civil strife evolved into a proxy war as Iran backed the Houthis and a Saudi Arabian-led coalition sided with Yemen’s government. 


Two years later, 10,000 Yemenis are dead, two million live as refugees, and seven million are starving, according to the United Nations. 


“They’re killing my cousins and my family members and my friends in Yemen,” Al-Silwi said. “I felt like I’d betrayed my own people. Now I realize that America isn’t as innocent as I thought when it comes to my country, when it comes to Yemen.” 


More than 40,000 Yemeni-born Americans live in the U.S. according to the 2014 American Community Survey, although Yemenis say the number is much higher. Now, this tight-knit community is conflicted over whether U.S. involvement in the war helps or hurts their home country. While some condemn the U.S.-Saudi coalition as violating human rights, others see it as necessary to stop widely condemned Houthi violence. The situation worsened after President Trump authorized a counter-terrorism raid that killed dozens in Yemen and twice tried to ban Yemenis from entering the United States. 


But for many Yemeni-Americans, protesting on both sides of the conflict stirs fear. People who speak out against the Houthi rebels dread that their families back in Yemen will pay for it. Others who criticize U.S. foreign policy worry they’ll become a target of surveillance like after 9/11. 


“There have been a lot of programs that disproportionately affected the Yemeni-American community,” said Widad Indie, a New York City community activist, “and basically in some sense silenced them from being political or instilled a sense of fear of being too visible. It’s only recently that we see people who are more confident in speaking out.” 


Al-Silwi said some Yemeni-Americans worry that if they speak up, they’ll be accused of terrorism. 


“We’re afraid that we’re going to be suspects,” she said. “It’s not like we hate the U.S., we love the U.S. It’s just that they’re killing our families.” 


But not everyone avoids protesting. On the second anniversary of the war in March, a cluster of protesters gathered outside U.N. headquarters in New York City. Brandishing Yemeni flags and signs declaring “Stop Killing and Starving Children,” they blamed the coalition for the conflict. 


Bodega owner Maher Addailem, 34, one of the protest’s leaders, has lived in Brooklyn since 1997, but his wife and three children are still in Yemen. 

“We believe, and every person in Yemen believes,” he said, “that Saudi Arabia is paying the United Nations to keep their mouths zipped.” 


But to every side of Yemen’s conflict, there is an exception. Ibraham Al-Qatabi, a legal consultant in New York City, said that some people see the coalition as necessary to stop Houthi violence. 


“The Yemenis need intervention to stop internal massacres committed by Houthis,” Qatabi said. “No one thinks that Saudis are going to restore democracy. But you can’t really say ‘hands off Yemen’ but then give it to militia to deal with the mess.” 


The international community opposes the rebels and supports Hadi’s government. President Barack Obama backed away from Saudi arms sales in December 2016 amid protests from human rights groups, but Trump doubled his support on his first foreign trip to the kingdom. Gerald Feierstein, ambassador to Yemen under Obama, urged military caution, but perceived no conflict between U.S. militarism and humanitarian relief. 


Some Yemeni-Americans like Fadel Almontaser, a used car salesman in New York City whose wife and parents, along with two of his children, live in a relatively safe city in Yemen, encourage U.S. military action as the only way to solve the conflict. 


“I think the U.S. should intervene at this point by putting pressure on Iranians not to continue support of the Houthi movement, by threatening to implement sanctions against whoever is doing wrong to the Yemeni people, and by supporting the Saudis to finish the job they started,” Almontaser said. 


Almontaser said he knows friends who don’t post their opinions on social media because they fear backlash for their families in Yemen, but he speaks out because he and his family are safe. Dr. Hamud Al-Silwi, Sarah’s father and director of the Bronx Muslim Center, explained that most Yemeni-Americans know their right to protest. 


“We are from this country. It is a good country,” Al-Silwi said. “We have the freedom to help others.” 


Whatever their opinions, Yemeni-Americans jaded by the intractable conflict can agree on one thing: helping their home country. 


“I don’t care what the Houthis and Saudis are doing. When people who are family and blood are dying, you don’t care anymore,” said Sukaina Hasan, 23, a recent college graduate from Washington D.C. “We put our political differences aside and worry about the economy and humanitarian crisis.” 

Daily News
New york daily news

Queens landlord pushes DHS tip line to scare immigrants out of rent-controlled units, residents say

A landlord who's faced past allegations of tenant harassment has posted signs touting a Department of Homeland Security tip line in some of his Queens buildings, which have unnerved some tenants. 

Between President Trump's push to deport undocumented residents and a spike in immigration raids, the Bangladeshi tenants of a Zara realty apartment building on 168th St. in Jamaica are on edge. 

"It's to scare the people," said Abukhar Hossain, whose family has lived at the nine-story brick address for 15 years. 

New York City news service

Behind Closed Doors: 

Domestic Laborers Make All other Work Possible

winner of eppy 2017 Best University News or event feature

Dianne, 53, is only supposed to work until 7 p.m., but she never knows when she will get a text from her employers: we have an urgent meeting, can you stay late? The Jamaican-born nanny always agrees. It doesn’t bother her after 14 years.

Dianne first held the bleached-blonde boy who became like her own son when he was six weeks old. Whenever his parents traveled for work, it was Dianne who stayed with him for days at a time.

“They are comfortable with me enough to know that they can leave me with their child, day and night,” Dianne said. “Through their financial changes and promotions, I’m here the whole time.”

For 14 years, she has cared for the boy – and now his dog, too – in the ninth floor apartment on the Upper West Side. She earns $640 for a 30-hour work week, studies for her college degree, and supports her daughter and granddaughter whom she left behind in Jamaica.


For Dianne, who overstayed her tourist visa in 2000, President Trump’s inauguration leaves her in anxious limbo.

Private households employ the highest percentage of undocumented immigrants of any American industry. Twenty-three percent of the 947,000 people working in U.S. homes were undocumented, according to the 2014 American Community Survey.

There were nearly 100,000 domestic workers in New York City in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor. Most, like Dianne, are foreign-born women of color. Through their labor, these women enable thousands of other workers to contribute to New York City’s economy.

“Domestic work is the work that makes all other work possible,” said Patricia, an undocumented 57-year-old immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago and domestic worker for 15 years.

“Behind the scenes these are the women that allow things to really happen in America,” said Alene Mathurin, an immigrant from St. Lucia, former nanny, and founder of a non-profit supporting domestic workers. “Through nanny care, the doctor who’s a parent can deliver a baby tonight. Through nanny care, the person in Wall Street can go to the meeting early in the morning. Because of nanny care, the CEO is in Japan.”