LONDON: A married couple have spoken of their “shock” at the UK Home Office which will bar them from being together for the birth of their first child, due within days.
London-based Italian citizen Farzana Miah, 23, and Mohammed Mushraf, 27, met and married while they were both studying in the UK.
Their first child is due March 28 — but they will not be able to be together for it.
Mushraf has applied for indefinite leave to remain in the UK because he is married to someone with EU settled status.
He is in possession of documents allowing him to work, study and rent a property in the UK while his application is being considered. Those documents also state that he can “travel in and out of the country without having to prove your status as your information will be checked automatically.”
Knowing that, the couple traveled to India to visit Mushraf’s family before the baby was born. But when Mushraf tried to board a plane back to the UK with his wife, immigration officials told him that he did not have relevant documentation allowing him back into Britain.
Officials said the certificate of application was not sufficient. Miah had to return to the UK alone.
In February, he was denied his application to live in the UK — the Home Office said he had failed to provide sufficient evidence that he was a “durable partner” of his wife.
Usually, this evidence consists of both of the couple’s names on utility bills or rental agreements. However, as practicing Muslims, the two had not cohabited in advance of their marriage.
Miah to the Guardian: “We are in a state of shock.
“Had it not been for what was stated on the Home Office certificate of application about having the right to travel, we never would have traveled to India. I have begged the Home Office to let my husband be with me for the birth of my baby, but I don’t think we can melt their heart.”
The couple’s lawyer, Naga Kandiah, has lodged an urgent appeal that he hopes can be heard before the baby is born.
Kandiah said: “This is a prime example of someone who was misled by the wording of their certificate. It has resulted in the separation of this family at, arguably, one of the most critical times in their lives, the birth of their first child.”
Speaking from India, father-to-be Mushraf said: “I feel broken. We have tried our best to be together, but I don’t know what else we can do. I want to be in the delivery room with my wife to support her but I’m helpless because of the Home Office.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “In line with the (Brexit) withdrawal agreement, someone applying to stay in the UK as a durable partner of an EU citizen will generally need to prove, with evidence, the relationship was durable by Dec. 31, 2020 and is ongoing. Where an application is denied, the applicant has 14 days from date of decision to submit an appeal, or 28 if outside the UK.”
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida: Amid Republican gains in the US House races in Florida, Democrat Maxwell Alejandro Frost became the first member of Generation Z to win a seat in Congress.
As of Tuesday night, most of the Florida races for the US House of Representatives had gone according to expectation, including Republican Anna Paulina Luna’s win against Democrat Eric Lynn in the 13th District, a St. Petersburg-based district formerly represented by Democrat Charlie Crist.
Republicans were on pace to add to their domination of the US House delegation from Florida, where the GOP-led government drew new district lines favoring their party.
But Frost, a 25-year-old gun reform and social justice activist, was able to win handily in a heavily blue Orlando-area district being relinquished by Democratic Rep. Val Demings, who lost her challenge against Sen. Marco Rubio.
Frost is a former March For Our Lives organizer seeking stricter gun control laws and has stressed opposition to restrictions on abortion rights. Gen Z generally refers to those born between the late 1990s to early 2010s. To become a member of Congress, candidates must be at least 25 years old.
Frost is among at least six newcomers to the US House of Representatives in Tuesday’s vote from Florida as Republicans took advantage of an aggressively redrawn congressional map spearheaded by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
In the wake of the 2020 census, DeSantis had ordered the GOP-controlled legislature to adopt a map devised to maximize Republican gains — vetoing the initial GOP-backed map which largely kept intact two seats held by Black Democratic members of Congress.
Heading into this election year, Republicans held 16 seats and Democrats represented 11 from Florida in the House. Florida is gaining a 28th seat due to population growth.
In one of the marquee races, Republican Neal Dunn defeated Democrat Al Lawson in a north Florida battle of incumbents. Lawson’s majority-Black district was scrapped by the Republican-led Legislature, which adopted a congressional map pushed by DeSantis, prompting a lawsuit alleging unconstitutional racial gerrymandering.
The new House members from Florida will come from six open seats, including the 13th District won by Luna after losing in 2020 to Crist.
In addition, Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy chose not to run for reelection after her redrawn district in central Florida, leading to a victory by Republican Cory Mills, which marks a switch to the GOP. And in South Florida, Democrat Ted Deutch’s retirement opened the way for fellow Democrat Jared Moskowitz to win the seat that includes the high school where Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people in 2018.
One truly open seat, where no incumbent was involved, was the 15th District in the Tampa area, where Republican Laurel Lee — a former Florida secretary of state — defeated Democrat Alan Cohn, a former investigative journalist.
Among races with an incumbent, Miami-area 27th District was the most closely contested and had a history of flipping back and forth between Democrats and Republicans.
In that race, Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo lost to first-term Republican Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, keeping the seat in the GOP fold.
Otherwise, Florida’s incumbent US House members are headed back to Washington.
These include Republican Matt Gaetz, a top supporter of former President Donald Trump who is under federal investigation in a sex trafficking case; Democrat Kathy Castor in a Tampa-area seat; Republican Vern Buchanan, who could chair the powerful Ways and Means Committee in a GOP-led House; Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a former Democratic National Committee chair; and state delegation dean and Republican Mario Diaz-Balart, first elected in 2002.
One incumbent had no opposition Tuesday: GOP Rep. John Rutherford, a former Duval County sheriff, had already won another term in north Florida’s 5th District.
The economy is weighing heavily on the minds of Florida voters. Three-quarters of them believe things in the country are heading in the wrong direction, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of more than 3,200 voters in Florida. About half rank the economy and jobs as the most important issues facing the country.
Almost 8 in 10 voters say the nation’s economy is not so good or poor. When looking at their own family’s financial situation, about half describe it as holding steady while almost 4 in 10 say they are falling behind. However, 6 in 10 voters say they are confident they can keep up with their expenses and find a good job if needed.
For a majority, inflation is the single most important factor in the election.
Meanwhile, nearly 7 in 10 voters say the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion is an important factor in the election.
KATHMANDU: An earthquake of magnitude 6.6 struck Nepal early Wednesday, killing at least six people and destroying multiple houses in the western district of Doti, close to populous towns, officials said.
Five other people were seriously injured as eight houses collapsed, said Bhola Bhatta, deputy superintendent of police in Doti, confirming an earlier figure shared by home ministry official Tulsi Rijal.
Nepal is still rebuilding after two major earthquakes in 2015 killed almost 9,000 people, destroyed whole towns and centuries-old temples and caused a $6 billion blow to the economy.
Narayan Silwal, spokesman for the Nepali army, said a ground rescue team has been rushed to the site and two helicopters were on stand by in nearby Surkhet and Nepalgunj towns.
Nepal’s seismological centre set the earthquake at a magnitude of 6.6. The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) had pegged the earthquake at a magnitude of 5.6.
The quake was centred about 158 km (100 miles) northeast of Pilibhit, a populous city in the neighbouring Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and occurred at a depth of 10 km, EMSC added.
Media reports after the quake showed tremors were also felt in India’s capital, New Delhi, and surrounding areas.
ATLANTA: Georgia voters are ready to settle one of the nation’s marquee midterm contests as they choose whether to reelect Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock to his first full term or replace him with Republican challenger Herschel Walker.
Yet the state’s quirky election law means Tuesday could be just Round 1. Georgia requires a majority to win statewide office, and with polls suggesting a close race and a third-party candidate on the ballot, it’s possible neither Warnock nor Walker will surpass the 50 percent threshold. That would set up a four-week blitz ahead of a Dec. 6 runoff that, depending on the outcomes in other Senate contests, could reprise the 2020 election cycle, when two Senate runoffs in Georgia doubled as a national winner-take-all battle for partisan control of the Senate.
The chamber is now divided 50-50 between the two major parties, with Vice President Kamala Harris giving Democrats the tie-breaking vote.
A runoff also would mean another month of Warnock hammering Walker, a sports celebrity turned politician, as unqualified and Walker assailing Warnock as a rubber-stamp for the White House.
“Raphael Warnock votes with Joe Biden 96 percent of the time,” Walker tells voters again and again. “He’s forgotten about the people of Georgia.”
Warnock, who is also the senior minister at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, answers that Walker is “not ready” and “not fit” for high office. That’s an allusion to Walker’s rocky past, from allegations of violence against his ex-wife to accusations by two women Walker once dated that he encouraged and paid for their abortions despite his public opposition to abortion rights.
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Both approaches highlight the candidates’ most glaring liabilities.
Amid generationally high inflation and with Biden’s popularity lagging in Georgia, Warnock wants voters to make a localized choice, not a national referendum on Democrats as a whole. Georgia’s first Black US senator, Warnock pitches himself as a pragmatist who cuts deals with Republicans when they’re willing and pushes Democratic-backed cost-cutting measures when they’re not. Among the top accomplishments Warnock touts: capping the cost of insulin and other drugs for Medicare recipients.
“I’ll work with anybody to get things done for the people of Georgia,” Warnock said.
Walker, meanwhile, denies that he’s ever paid for an abortion. And glossing over a cascade of other stories — documented exaggerations of his business record, academic achievements and philanthropic activities; publicly acknowledging three additional children during the campaign only after media reports on their existence — Walker touts his Christian faith and says his life is a story of “redemption.”
Through the scrutiny he calls “foolishness,” the Republican nominee has campaigned as a cultural and fiscal conservative. Walker, who is also Black, pledges to “bring people together” while framing Warnock as a divisive figure on matters of race and equality. Walker justifies his attack using snippets of Warnock’s sermons in which the pastor-senator discusses institutional racism.
Republicans used similar tactics against Warnock ahead of his runoff victory on Jan. 5, 2021. Warnock won that contest by about 95,000 votes out of 4.5 million cast. More than 2 million Georgia voters have cast ballots ahead of Election Day.
TOKYO: The Sixth “Saudi-Japan Vision 2030” Ministerial Meeting was held in Tokyo on Tuesday under the auspices of the Saudi Ministry of Investment and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
On the Japanese side, Nishimura Yasutoshi, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, and Yamada Kenji, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, participated in the meeting, with Nishimura making the opening speech.
On the Saudi side, Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Investment, gave an opening address, and was joined at the meeting by the Saudi ambassador to Japan, Naif Al Fahadi.
The minister said that Saudi Arabia is “very keen on promoting and strengthening this strategic partnership with Japan as a reliable partner.”
Al-Falih said that the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 meeting came just before Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s state visit to Japan from Nov. 19-21.
The minister said that 89 of the initiatives from the vision are “being materialized, with some already completed.” He added that it was important to not only to ensure the quantity of these initiatives, but to also emphasize their quality.
Al-Falih said Saudi Arabia aims to be one of the world’s fifteen largest economies by the end of this decade. “The Saudi economy is already expanding at 10.2 percent in the first three quarters of 2022,” he explained. “That is the fastest growing rate among the G20 economies.”
“We now have over 40 industrial cities, already developed and many of them are hosting Japanese who are doing very well in the industrial sector,” he said. Al-Falih added that Japanese companies can invest in virtually all sectors of Saudi Arabia.
When it comes to space exploration, the Saudi minister said that the Kingdom has developed a new space strategy to join the “top ten space nations by 2030 and become a global space champion.”
“We will prioritize commercial returns from our space program, and bolster your competitiveness and increase our share of the space market and we would love to see the Japanese aerospace exploration agency JAXA participate in our space program,” he added.
Al-Falih told the audience at the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 meeting that Saudi Arabia plans to significantly increase gas production capacity including producing and exporting LPG, which is key to the Japanese economy.
“We are investing here in Japan with Showa Shell initially, now with Idemitsu, But we will also invest in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Blue and green hydrogen are also important for Saudi Arabia’s agenda, Al-Falih said. “Blue and green hydrogen are being invested in in Saudi Arabia at a scale nobody else is doing, and we started the discussion with our Japanese counterparts more than ten years ago.”
Al-Falih said he signed an MOU when he was last in Japan and helped join forces with the Japanese led hydrogen council to signify and ARAMCO.
“In NEOM, the world’s largest hydrogen project is being built and ARAMCO is investing to produce 11 million ton of blue hydrogen that is being done in coordination and consultation with Japanese companies,” he explained.
Al-Falih congratulated Japan on its progress made for Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, adding that Saudi Arabia is actively working on hosting Expo 2030 in Riyadh.
Nishimura, who is also chairman of the Japan-Saudi Parliamentary Friendship League, welcomed the Saudi delegation and emphasized the importance of the two countries’ relationship.
“For Japan, which imports approximately 40 percent of its crude oil from Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia is the most important partner in terms of energy security,” he said in his opening remarks. “I would like to once again express my gratitude for the stable supply of crude oil over the long term. I also expect Saudi Arabia to take a leadership role in stabilizing the international crude oil market as the situation in Ukraine makes the global energy supply and demand uncertain.”
“In addition, the socio-economic reforms and mega-projects promoted by Saudi Arabia’s leadership have become even more important as new growth drivers for the Middle East and for realizing the global trend toward carbon neutrality. Japan will contribute to the economic and social reforms of Saudi Arabia through the Japan-Saudi Vision. Together with the people of Saudi Arabia, we will further accelerate and further expand our efforts.”
Nishimura explained that since the Fifth Ministerial Meeting two years ago, “steady progress” has been made. He went through some of the representative initiatives which included cooperation in the field of clean energy.
“[Clean energy] is important for the oil-free reform that Saudi Arabia is aiming for. Last month, JOGMEC and Saudi Aramco signed a comprehensive cooperation agreement in the field of hydrogen and ammonia. We will accelerate cooperation toward the realization of a sustainable society,” he said.
Nishimura added that demand for housing construction is “strong in Saudi Arabia.”
“A Japanese building materials company has started a project to manufacture and supply houses in Saudi Arabia using a concrete 3D printer in cooperation with a Saudi conglomerate,” he said.
The Japanese minister said they are proceeding with a plan to establish an R&D center in Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture, to accept and train around 100 Saudi engineers annually. He added that they will “contribute to the realization of a digital society with Japanese technology in specific fields such as construction.”
Another representative initiative includes cooperation in new fields that capture the social reforms of Saudi Arabia.
In the entertainment field, e-sports competitions between the two countries were held in both Japan and Saudi Arabia. Also, at the 2nd Saudi Anime Expo held in Riyadh last month, many Saudi and Japanese cosplayers dressed as Japanese anime characters such as ‘Dragon Ball’ and ‘Kimetsu no Yaiba’.
“It is a great pleasure that Japan’s content industry is contributing to economic and social reform, and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will continue to support this field,” he said.
“Finally, I would like to express my respect for the leadership of everyone in attendance and the efforts of all the organizations involved in supporting the project, ‘Shukran Jazeelan‘ (thank you very much)” Nishimura concluded by thanking his guests in Arabic.
The event was concluded by Minister Nishimura’s closing remarks, whereupon the delegations moved to another room for signing of agreements and the exchange of gifts.
LONDON: More than 70,000 university staff at 150 British universities will strike for three days in November over pay, working conditions and pensions, the University and College Union (UCU) said on Tuesday.
“Campuses across the UK are about to experience strike action on a scale never seen before,” the UCU general secretary Jo Grady said in a statement on the union’s website.
“This dispute has the mass support of students because they know their learning conditions are our members’ working conditions,” Grady added.
The union said the full strike dates would take place on Nov. 24, 25 and 30.