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TOPIC: visa


China's COVID Coverup Is The Perfect Script For One-Party Rule

That it fools nobody is essential to the plot. That people are dying turns it into tragedy.


Rarely has the gap between official information and reality been so wide. Every night at 8 p.m., China's newscast opens with a long montage devoted to the daily activities of the country's leaders, by order of importance: Xi Jinping at an economic meeting, Xi Jinping publishing a new book ... Then, after 20 minutes or so, some images about COVID, just in passing, and mainly to highlight that the Party line is the right one.

Among the Chinese population, it is exactly the opposite. COVID dominates conversations: the race for drugs, saturated hospitals with beds set up outside, endless waits at crematoriums working non-stop. And death, with the number of pandemic casualties unknown since the government has changed the definition of what constitutes a COVID victim.

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Agrotokens Let Farmers Turn Surplus Grain Into Tangible Cryptocurrency

Digital currencies may be volatile, but one company in Argentina has found a way to allow farmers to purchase goods and services online using surplus grain.

BUENOS AIRES — Amid a boom in the price of farming products, an Argentine firm has devised a way for local farmers to turn surplus grain into digital credits that can be used to purchase goods with a debit card.

In partnership with Visa, Agrotoken, a firm founded by Eduardo Novillo Astrada and Ariel Scaliter, has created a card accepted by 80 million shops and businesses associated with its tokenized grains program. The firm is effectively linking Argentine farmers and exporters who have surplus grains with a global business network.

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Attack Of The Visa Bots: When Hackers Make Life Hell For Immigrants

A first-hand experience of how illegal bots are making it impossible for many immigrants in France to live here legally.


PARIS — On a Sunday night in mid-January, I was prepared with a computer and phone to try to get a ticket for the hottest event in Paris. A cool new band concert? A Champions League soccer match? No, as an American citizen living in France, I was simply trying to get an appointment to pick up my renewed visa. When the clock hit midnight — when new slots were supposed to open up — I immediately clicked on the button to see the available times.

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WeChat Or Chinese Journalists: Who Is Doing China's Bidding Abroad?

Beginning last month, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has tightened access to media visas for any journalist holding a Chinese passport. The validity period of each visa delivered will be shortened to 90 days, instead of being unlimited as before. Journalists who are citizens of Hong Kong or the Macao Special Administrative Region are not subject to this restriction.

This is Washington's second major policy change around media visas this year. Last February, the State Department designated Chinese state media, including the Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network (CGTN), China Radio International, China Daily and People's Daily as "foreign missions," setting a cap on the number of their personnel.

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Kurt Kister

Turkey: Why Europe Must Stand Up To Erdogan's Power Grabs

As Turkish President Erdogan pushes his country towards despotism, European Union leaders — especially in Germany — must take a harder line.


MUNICH — It has become all too clear that Turkey today not only has no place in the European Union, but also does not belong to the broader international community of values that respects the ideas of pluralism, individual freedom and human rights.

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eyes on the U.S.
Grigory Tumanov and Elena Chernenko*

Former Cold War Foe Russia Increasingly Expels Americans From Its Turf

MOSCOW — Russia is increasingly deporting U.S. citizens on its soil in recent years. Americans living in Russia have also seen a sharp spike in the number of residence permits that have been revoked since the start of this year, signaling a deterioration in relations between the two former Cold War foes.

Russian authorities say they're enforcing immigration laws and urge U.S. citizens not to "demonize Russia." But a look at the numbers demonstrates otherwise.

Russian authorities sent back just one U.S. citizen in 2012. That number gradually grew since then to 57 Americans last year. In the first half of this year, they expelled 18 Americans.

The data on residency permits reveals a more complex picture. Although the number of revoked permits was 19 in 2012, that number plunged to 8 last year. But just the first half of this year saw the number jump up to 25.

The interior ministry says that these Americans had violated the conditions of their stay by remaining in the country for more than six months beyond their permit's expiry date or by infringing labor laws. But U.S. diplomats, Russian human rights activists and many political analysts view the data as a sign of worsening relations between the two countries.

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More transparency needed in Moscow? — Photo: Zabara Alexander

One deportee, Jennifer Gaspar, was separated from her husband and daughter in 2014, after legally residing in Saint Petersburg for a decade. Russian migration officials annulled Gaspar's residency, calling her a threat to national security on the basis of a certificate issued by the Federal Security Services, which described her as favoring "forcible change of the constitutional order."

Gaspar says that she is being expelled from Russia because her husband, Ivan Pavlov, is a human rights attorney. Pavlov heads "Team 29," a group of journalists and young lawyers advocating for government transparency.

Dr. Mikhail Troitskiy, an assistant professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, is among those who say politics is definitely to blame for the crackdown on U.S. citizens.

Pavel Chikov, a human rights activist, echoes the belief.

"The United States and Russia have a complex relationship that has been around for a long time, so the trends in migration are difficult to analyze," he says. "But they are there nonetheless."

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South Korea
Jason Strother

Ahmed's Story: From Syria To A South Korean Island

For Syrians able to escape the horrors of war, Europe is the preferred destination. But some have ventured farther afield. One 22-year-old refugee landed on Jeju island, a popular honeymoon spot off the coast of South Korea.

JEJU — With its black volcanic rocks that jut out of the sea, Jeju Island is best known as a honeymoon getaway for South Koreans. But it also has a local population of approximately 600,000, nearly all of them Korean. Ahmed Lababidi is a rare exception in that regard. He's not even Asian. He's from Aleppo, in Syria.

It's a typically windy day here, so we go into a nearby cafe to have a chat. The 22-year-old wears glasses, is clean-shaven, and has dark hair that he's growing out. His journey out of Syria, he explains, began in 2012, when war engulfed his hometown. Ahmed and his family managed to escape — to Turkey.

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Marco Zatterin

Time To Close Borders Inside Europe? A Ridiculous Idea

Right-wing politicians think we should abandon the Schengen Area, and return to national borders within Europe. That would make about as much sense as putting a wall around Sicily.


BRUSSELS — In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, Europe's right-wing and populist movements have proposed abolishing the EU Schengen Area and returning to border controls as a means to temper growing Islamist terror threats. It's a good headline, but it's doesn't really have legs to stand on.

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Leung Man-Tao*

Why Hong Kong Is Fed Up With China's Mainlanders

Chinese tourists flood in, leaving behind filth and stretching public resources. And that's just scratching the surface. A Hong Kong writer dissects growing tension between two cultures.

HONG KONG — Some of my mainland China friends have traveled to Hong Kong repeatedly, for no other reason they say than to “smell the air here.”

But they have recently begun notice changes: Hong Kong waitresses are less polite, the Cantonese-speaking locals give them dirty looks in the street when they hear Mandarin. As a Hongkonger myself, but also their friend, this poses an uncomfortable dilemma.

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eyes on the U.S.
*Jerry Haar

Latin America Also Pays For A Broken U.S. Visa System

Restrictive U.S. entry requirements deprive talented people of work opportunity but also drag down the competitiveness across the Americas.


MIAMI — The United States has created a visa system that honors family reunification, a noble goal, but that discriminates against highly qualified people with no relatives in the country.

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Eleonora Vallin

From KKK To An Italian Village, Was David Duke Plotting A Comeback?

A visit to the tiny village in the Dolomite Mountains where the notorious U.S. politician and former Ku Klux Klan grandmaster was residing under a false name. He was deported last week.

VENAS DI CADORE — In the local police station they've come to call him "Mr. White," but his real name is David Duke — the notorious Ku Klux Klan leader and Holocaust denier who was a U.S. presidential candidate in the 1992 after serving in the Louisiana state legislature.

Duke came to this small town in the Dolomites near the Austrian border 18 months ago, declaring that his intention was to study. But earlier this month, Italian police say they expelled him from the country because of his “dangerous intentions to form racist and anti-Semitic groups in Europe.”

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Niccolò Zancan

From Africa To Europe, A Former Child Soldier Haunted By His Own Unthinkable Acts

One native of Sierra Leone, who arrived in Italy via the now notorious island of Lampedusa, is trying to find peace in a Roman slum.

ROME — When he was a child, Papani Kamara’s mentor was known as Adama “Cut Hands.”

“He always told us that our machetes needed to be well sharpened,” Kamara recalls. “This was important because if the cut was clean, then the victims would pass out. Otherwise, the wrist or elbow could stay attached to the rest of the arm hanging by just a strip of flesh.”

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