The State Department will waive fees for immigrants seeking visas to come to the U.S. if they were previously denied one because of the Trump administration’s travel ban, according to a Wednesday announcement.
“An IV applicant who is the beneficiary of a valid immigration petition may submit another visa application after being refused and in most circumstances they are required to pay again the relevant application fees,” according to a Federal Register rule published Wednesday. “The Department exempts from such fees only those IV applicants who are applying again after being refused” a visa under the travel ban.
The ban prevented immigration from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. President Joe Biden issued an executive order repealing the ban on his first day in office in January 2021.
Two of the largest cell phone providers in the country are moving forward with their original plans to launch 5G wireless service this week, even as federal officials warn that such technology could pose a risk of interfering with aviation equipment, according to Politico.
In a joint letter sent to the State Department by the CEOs of AT&T and Verizon, the executives argued that an expansion of cell phone coverage via 5G is necessary amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“With continued COVID crises, it has never been more important that our country’s critical communications infrastructure have the spectrum needed to handle escalating traffic demands from our customers,” said AT&T’s John Stankey and Verizon’s Hans Vestberg.
President Joe Biden has stumbled, mumbled, and bumbled his way through his first year in office. While many of his gaffes leave us laughing, much of what comes out of his mouth isn’t just nonsense, it’s outright lies. Here’s a look at Biden’s Top 10 Lies of the past year.
Georgia election reforms
Biden claimed “Georgia’s new law ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote.”
Even the Washington Post called Biden out for this lie (after the paper repeatedly repeated it for months!)
Biden repeatedly condemned a new Georgia election law that imposed new restrictions on voting, but one of his complaints was simply false: “It ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over.” Many listeners might assume he was talking about voting on Election Day. But Election Day hours were not changed. The law did make some changes to early voting. But experts say the net effect of the new early-voting rules was to expand the opportunities to vote for most Georgians, not limit them.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed Wednesday the State Department is conducting an internal review into the evacuation of Afghanistan.
“It’s absolutely critical that we capture and benefit from lessons learned,” Blinken said in a speech at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia, attended by lawmakers, diplomats and others.
Just as the special counsel’s investigation into the origins of Crossfire Hurricane—the FBI counterintelligence probe launched in the summer of 2016 to sabotage Donald Trump’s presidential campaign—is showing signs of life, one of the central figures in the hoax is attempting to burnish his sullied image.
ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos has produced a documentary featuring Christopher Steele, the man responsible for the so-called dossier bearing his name. “Out of the Shadows: The Man Behind the Steele Dossier,” streamed on Hulu Monday night; promotional clips hinted that, far from a hard-hitting interview exposing Steele for the charlatan he is, Stephanopoulos gave Steele a chance to spin his story ahead of possible new indictments related to John Durham’s inquiry into the Trump-Russia election collusion hoax.
A gang known for previous abductions has been blamed for the kidnapping of 17 American missionaries in Haiti on Saturday, NBC News reported.
The Christian Aid Ministries missionaries were kidnapped on their way from the construction of an orphanage, according to a message from Ohio-based ministry, NBC reported.
“This is a special prayer alert,” the ministry’s one-minute message said. “Pray that the gang members would come to repentance.”
The U.S. Embassy is working with the field director of the mission, whose family stayed at the ministry’s base with an unidentified man while the abduction took place, the message said.
State Department evacuation flights out of Afghanistan will resume by the end of the year, a senior State Department official told The Wall Street Journal.
The operation to retrieve U.S. citizens and Afghan allies left behind will require coordination with the Taliban and other governments, the official told The Wall Street Journal. Kabul’s international airport remains closed to regular passenger travel since the U.S. ended its first evacuation attempt on Aug. 31.
U.S. citizens, U.S. legal permanent residents and immediate family members will receive priority treatment in securing seats on evacuation flights, the official said. The State Department is hoping to eventually have several aircraft leave the country each week.
President Joe Biden is planning to increase the number of refugees allowed to enter the U.S. to 125,000 during the new fiscal year, which will begin October 1.
The move, which was announced by the State Department Monday, fulfills a Biden campaign promise. Though, the action will likely not impact two groups of people in the news of late – the thousands of Afghans who fled Kabul last month as U.S. forces were hastily withdrawn, and the more than 15,000 Haitians who are camped under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, along the southern border having fled political and economic turmoil in their home country. The two groups are not classed by the department as refugees.
America First Legal is demanding an investigation into the Biden administration regarding its withdrawal from Afghanistan and is requesting answers from a number of government agencies over the handling of evacuees, according to a letter and six Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests first obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The group has asked the Department of Defense (D0D) acting inspector general for an investigation into the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, specifically into the reported “‘Kill List’ Given to the Taliban,” information revealing what the president knew from intelligence reports, details about the “abandoned equipment and assets” and about leaving Bagram air base, as well as information about the “effective deployment of US air force assets.”
Uzbekistan, a Middle Eastern nation that borders Afghanistan, warned the U.S. that refugees fleeing the Taliban wouldn’t be granted asylum, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Uzbekistan government recently urged the U.S. to take action and transport the refugees to a third nation, according to the WSJ. The small Middle Eastern country reportedly doesn’t want t0 create tension with the incoming Taliban-controlled Afghan government by housing refugees including soldiers who fought alongside and were trained by American troops.
The Biden administration continued to inform American citizens in Afghanistan as of Thursday evening they could have to pay more than $2,000 to board an evacuation flight out of the country, despite the State Department telling the press hours before that it had no intention of levying any such charges.
The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has stated in multiple security advisories since Monday that any U.S. citizen seeking to evacuate the country must complete an online form in order to secure their repatriation flight. “This form is the only way to communicate interest in flight options,” the embassy said in a security advisory Wednesday.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told the Daily Caller News Foundation and other news outlets late Thursday afternoon that the Biden administration has “no intention of seeking any reimbursement from those fleeing Afghanistan.”
Army Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor and Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby dodged a reporter’s question about whether the US military is buying aviation fuel from the Taliban as evacuation efforts continue at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul.
During a briefing at the Pentagon Thursday, Kirby also revealed that of the 2,000 people evacuated over the last 24 hours, only 300 of them were Americans.
“How are you fueling your planes… are you now in a position that you have to buy fuel from the Taliban?” asked Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin during a briefing at the Pentagon.
The Biden Administration quashed a critical State Department program designed to help Americans evacuate safely out of crisis zones just months prior to the fall of Kabul, the National Pulse reported Wednesday.
The “Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau” was established late last year to handle medical, diplomatic, and logistical support involving Americans overseas.
On April 12, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the appointment of Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, a career Foreign Service Officer and former ambassador to Malta, as the State Department’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer (CDIO). On July 21, Blinken sent an unclassified cable to U.S. diplomatic and consular posts around the world to introduce Abercrombie-Winstanley — who, in her new position, reports directly to the secretary of state — and to tout the new Office for Diversity and Inclusion.
A State Department that welcomes, and offers opportunities for advancement, to all Americans is a priority. Yet the lofty rhetoric of diversity and inclusion has often provided a cover for imposing ideological conformity and distributing benefits and burdens based on race. Therefore, Blinken’s new undertaking gives cause for concern. His near silence in the two official pronouncements about the personal qualities, educational attainments, professional achievements, and areas of expertise that the State Department values in building a workforce that responsibly conducts American foreign policy heightens apprehensions.
To advance U.S. interests abroad, the State Department must live up to America’s highest principles by ensuring that service in the nation’s diplomatic corps is open to all citizens based on skills, talents, and character. Individuals with diverse experiences, opinions, and training enrich understanding within the department of the vast array of jobs, opportunities, and threats that the United States faces abroad. These range from efficient processing of visa requests and effective operation within international organizations to protect health and the environment to cooperating with friends and partners to counter the Chinese Communist Party’s aim in every region of the globe to reorient world order around Beijing’s authoritarian imperatives.
The State Department will allow people to choose their gender on passports, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Wednesday.
The State Department will let people “self-select their gender as ‘M’ or ‘F’” and will waive the required medical certification for individuals whose gender on their citizenship or ID doesn’t match their “self-selected gender,” Blinken said.
Blinken also said his department was also working toward adding “non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons” gender markers for passport applicants.
A spokesperson for the Biden Administration’s State Department confirmed the possibility that some of the aid being sent to the Palestinians could go to the terrorist organization Hamas, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
The administration is allocating up to $100 million of American taxpayers’ money to go to the Palestinians, but has repeatedly declined to confirm if there are any safeguards in the aid package that could prevent some of the funds from going to Hamas, the terror group that is responsible for thousands of unprovoked rocket attacks on Israel in recent weeks.
An unnamed senior official with the State Department said that “as we’ve seen in life, as we all know in life, there are no guarantees,” with regards to the possibility of terrorists getting their hands on some of the funds.
The corporate press spent much of the pandemic dismissing the theory that COVID-19 could have accidentally leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology because former President Donald Trump talked about it, according to Washington Post senior reporter Aaron Blake.
“It has become evident that some corners of the mainstream media overcorrected when it came to one particular theory from Trump and his allies: that the coronavirus emanated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, rather than naturally,” Blake wrote in an analysis piece published Monday. “It’s also true that many criticisms of the coverage are overwrought and that Trump’s and his allies’ claims invited and deserved skepticism.”
Blake explained that the media was justified in being skeptical of the lab leak theory because Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had leaned in “hard” to the theory without providing “even piecemeal evidence” to support their claims.
The State Department is expanding the “Do Not Travel” guidelines for U.S. citizens to include nearly 80% of countries because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency announced Monday.
The travel advisories will be updated to align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) health notices as travelers are at risk because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Department said in a statement.
“This update will result in a significant increase in the number of countries at Level 4: Do Not Travel, to approximately 80% of countries worldwide,” the department said in a statement.
President Biden’s State Department announced Wednesday the creation of a chief diversity officer position, as well as a council of deputy assistant secretaries from each of its bureaus, in an effort to bring “diversity and inclusion” to the department, Fox News reported.
“I am committed to bringing the diversity and inclusion work already underway at the State Department to the next level,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Wednesday. “To make that happen, I am pleased to announce the creation of a new Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer position at State.”
State Department officials were explicitly ordered in spring 2019 to stop tracking 13 prominent Americans’ social media accounts for information about the Joe Biden-Ukraine scandal because the monitoring violated federal law, according to emails that were originally redacted to hide the concerns from the American public.
“We are barred by law from actively monitoring the accounts of American citizens in aggregate — and particularly from identifying and monitoring individual, selected accounts,” a State Department official wrote in an April 1, 2019 email to officials in Washington and the U.S. embassy in Kiev.