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The move comes from the Trump administration amid increasing reports of misuse or fraud from foreign nationals.

Top American lawmakers, too, have been opposing EB-5 Investors Visa programme as it increases cases of fraud and misuse of this one-of-its kind investors visa programme.

“The EB-5 regional center programme, which is set to expire on September 30 of this year, is in dire need of reforms to better protect US investors, businesses and communities against fraud, abuse, and mismanagement,” L Francis Cissna, Director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing this week.

“More importantly, reforms are needed to protect against national security risks that allow foreign nationals to invest for the purpose of laundering money or conducting espionage against us,” Cissna said.

EB-5 investor visa programme allocates up to 10,000 visas annually to foreign nationals, with a per country cap of seven per cent.

While India is the third highest filer of EB-5 visa application after China and Vietnam, majority of fraud and complaints of misuse have been coming from China.

Last year, 500 EB-5 petitions were filed by Indians, and this year 700 are expected to be filed.

The rate of rejection of applications for Indians under EB-5 stands at around 20 per cent, while the general denial rate is 10 per cent because of issues related to documentation and source of funds.

“The growing demand for EB-5 has spread throughout India especially Chandigarh, Punjab, Delhi, Mumbai, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka,” said Abhinav Lohia from CanAm, which had 50 investors from India in 2016, 97 in 2017 and are expecting 200 this year.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Cissna said that the EB-5 Regional Center programme was set to expire on September 30, 2018

 


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According to a Reuters report, the oil ministry has asked refiners to prepare for a ‘drastic reduction or zero’ imports of Iranian oil from November. The report cited industry sources saying that India, the biggest buyer of Iranian oil after China, will be forced to take action to protect its exposure to the US financial system.

India’s reaction to the Trump administration’s warning against import of oil from Iran came on a day the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley dubbed Iran as a “threat” and “the next North Korea”, and said that New Delhi should rethink its ties with Iran and that she had taken up the issue during her conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The US has told India and other countries to cut oil imports from Iran to “zero” by November 4 or face sanctions, making it clear that there would be no waivers to anyone.

“We have seen the statement made by the State Department official on this matter. The statement was not India-specific and applies to all countries. India will take all necessary steps, including engagement with relevant stakeholders to ensure our energy security,” Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing.

Earlier in the day, the government and industry officials said India was looking at slashing oil imports from Iran and replacing them with more purchases from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and has asked its oil firms to prepare a blueprint of alternatives sources.

Iran is India’s third-largest oil supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iran supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil between April 2017 and January 2018 (first 10 months of fiscal 2017-18).

Haley, who is on a three-day visit here, said India should reconsider it’s relationship with Tehran in the wake of that country’s violations of various UN resolutions.

“All of us have to rethink who we choose to do business with. I think as a friend India should also decide is this a country they want to continue doing business with? So, yes, I had that conversation with PM Modi,” she told NDTV in an interview.

“It was a constructive conversation. I think for the future of India, future of resources, we would encourage them to rethink their relationship with Iran,” she said.

Separately, in an address at a think-tank, Haley said the US would continue to try and work with its partners and allies to make sure that Iran was being pushed to be a good, accountable international neighbour.

She said the US strongly believes that Iran is a “threat” and it cannot take its eyes off the country.

 


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  1. The healthcare industry tackles the opioid crisis

Opioid overdoses are now the leading cause of death for US adults younger than 50. This is a phenomenon too big to solve by only one player – there is a role for everyone across the healthcare landscape, from prescribers, to payers, to the pharmaceutical industry, in order to reverse this trend.

  1. Social determinants come to the forefront

The US spends more on healthcare per capita per year than any other nation, but lags in outcomes. To improve health while saving money, the industry needs to expand the borders of healthcare. This means thinking beyond the four walls of the hospital and looking holistically at the full profile of a patient, beyond their specific health issue.

  1. Price transparency moves to the statehouse

With no clear legislative path for federal action on health reform, states are starting to take matters into their own hands. Over 30 states are now considering legislation that would directly control drug prices and shine a light on cost changes. It is important to watch what happens at the state level, as past state healthcare reform efforts have been brought to the national stage.

  1. Natural disasters create devastation that lasts long after the event passes

Natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires can wreak havoc on health systems, manufacturing supply chains, and financial operations both in the short and long-term. Health systems and pharmaceutical companies who conduct proactive scenario planning can increase the pace of recovery and avoid making premature decisions that could do harm in the long-term.

  1. Medicare Advantage swells in 2018

Medicare Advantage is projected to cover nearly 21 million people in 2018, a 5% increase over 2017, providing a new competitive opportunity for health insurers. However, many eligible consumers don’t know these plans exist, so insurers must work to raise awareness of options, and tailor those options to best meet patient needs.

  1. Health reform isn’t over, it’s just more complicated

While the chance to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through a single piece of legislation may be dead, the Republican party will likely continue to pursue health reform in 2018 through a more fragmented approach. 2018 will likely bring continued efforts to reduce and cap federal Medicaid spending, expand access to lower-premium health insurance, loosen ACA consumer protections, soften the employer and individual mandates and repeal ACA taxes and fees.

  1. Securing the internet of things

Following a year marked by major, industry wide cybersecurity breaches and a 525% increase in medical device cybersecurity vulnerabilities reported by the government, hospitals must take quick, decisive action to maintain data privacy, secure the thousands of connected medical devices on their networks and protect patients. Companies should treat cybersecurity incidents as a “non-natural” disaster, and invest more in planning, defensive measures and personnel.

 


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  1. AI permeation. Artificial intelligence (AI), largely manifesting through machine learning algorithms, isn’t just getting better. It isn’t just getting more funding. It’s being incorporated into a more diverse range of applications. Rather than focusing on one goal, like mastering a game or communicating with humans, AI is starting to make an appearance in almost every new platform, app, or device, and that trend is only going to accelerate in 2018. We’re not at techno-pocalypse levels (and AI may never be sophisticated enough for us to reach that point), but by the end of 2018, AI will become even more of a mainstay in all forms of technology.

  2. Digital centralization. Over the past decade, we’ve seen the debut of many different types of devices, including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and dozens of other “smart” appliances. We’ve also come to rely on lots of individual apps in our daily lives, including those for navigation to even changing the temperature of our house. Consumers are craving centralization; a convenient way to manage everything from as few devices and central locations as possible. Smart speakers are a good step in the right direction, but 2018 may influence the rise of something even better.

  3. 5G preparation. Though tech timelines rarely play out the way we think, it’s possible that we could have a 5G network in place—with 5G phones—by the end of 2019. 5G internet has the potential to be almost 10 times faster than 4G, making it even better than most home internet services. Accordingly, it has the potential to revolutionize how consumers use internet and how developers think about apps and streaming content. 2018, then, is going to be a year of massive preparation for engineers, developers, and consumers, as they gear up for a new generation of internet.

  4. Data overload. By now, every company in the world has realized the awesome power and commoditization of consumer data, and in 2018, data collection is going to become an even higher priority. With consumers talking to smart speakers throughout their day, and relying on digital devices for most of their daily tasks, companies will soon have access to—and start using—practically unlimited amounts of personal data. This has many implications, including reduced privacy, more personalized ads, and possibly more positive outcomes, such as better predictive algorithms in healthcare.

 


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A recent report on artificial intelligence (AI) by an Indian government think tank foresees the country as an AI hub for the developing world. Research analyst Shashank Reddy writes about the possibility of that happening.
India is the latest country to join the race to lead the AI revolution, which is still in the making. The world’s richest – and most powerful – countries have long been in this competition. It cuts across all spheres of national power, from the economy to the military, because the idea is that leadership in AI will enable global dominance.
The two biggest powers so far have been the United States and China, with each investing heavily in AI and its applications. So does India stand a chance?
Yes, according to a report released this month by think tank Niti Aayog.
Why automation could be a threat to India’s growth
The robots driving India’s online shopping boom
What India can offer

The report – which has been drafted as a “national strategy on AI” – admits that India lags significantly behind the superpowers in fundamental research and resources. Compared to the United States, it has fewer researchers and only a handful of dedicated laboratories and university departments. India also does not have tech giants such as Google and Amazon or behemoths like Baidu and Alibaba – all companies that can afford to invest in cutting-edge research.

But India enjoys crucial advantages too. It has a vast engineering workforce, a burgeoning start-up scene and an increasing amount of data as more people buy smartphones and go online.
The report itself is the latest in a slew of recent endeavours by the Indian government to encourage AI research. The federal government has created special committees to explore the possibilities AI offers in various sectors, from commerce to defence, as well as the issues that could arise from its widespread use. This year’s budget allocated money to develop a national AI strategy.


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Pope Francis has utterly failed to tackle the church’s abuse scandal

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The Vatican said in a statement McCarrick, 88, sent his resignation letter to the pope on Friday night.

Recent weeks have brought a spate of allegations that in the course of his distinguished career, McCarrick sexually abused both boys and adult seminarians. The revelations posed a test to Francis’s recently declared resolve to battle what he called a “culture of cover-up” of such abuse in the Catholic church hierarchy.
McCarrick has been removed from public ministry since 20 June, pending a full investigation into allegations he fondled a minor more than 40 years ago in New York City.

A man, who was 11 at the time of the first alleged instance of abuse, says a sexually abusive relationship continued for two more decades. McCarrick has denied the initial allegation.
Several men have come forward to allege McCarrick forced them to sleep with him at a beach house in New Jersey when they were adult seminarians studying for the priesthood.

The New York Times reported last week that two dioceses in New Jersey reached financial settlements in 2005 and 2007 with men who said they were abused by McCarrick as adults decades ago.
McCarrick has not commented on the allegations of abuse of adult men and another minor.

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Some American Catholics have said the Vatican should send an inspector to the US to determine who in the church hierarchy knew of the alleged incidents and why McCarrick’s rise was not impeded.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston said he was “deeply troubled” by the McCarrick case, saying it and others pointed to “a major gap” in church policy on sexual conduct and sexual abuse by bishops or other top officials.
Besides agreeing to McCarrick’s stepping down as a cardinal, Francis ordered him to conduct “a life of prayer and penance” until accusations against him are examined in a church trial.

McCarrick rose steadily through the US church, from auxiliary bishop in New York City to bishop in Metuchen, New Jersey, to archbishop of Newark, New Jersey and then to Archbishop of Washington DC, where the papal ambassador to the US is based.

While most scandals involving sexual abuse by members of the clergy have involved rank-and-file priests, some cases involved bishops and there are a few involving cardinals, including a current case in Australia involving one of Pope Francis’s closest advisers, Cardinal George Pell.

In the case of Scottish cardinal Keith O’Brien, accused by former seminarians in 2013 of sexual misconduct, Francis only accepted his resignation after the Vatican’s top abuse prosecutor conducted a full investigation, two years after the first revelations.

In its statement on McCarrick, the Vatican said: “Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the cardinalate and has ordered his suspension from the exercise of any public ministry, together with the obligation to remain in a house yet to be indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial.”

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SNBC’s Joe Scarborough on Monday unloaded on members of the Republican Party who are still hellbent on undermining special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

While noting that many Senate Republicans have lately been voicing stronger support for Mueller’s probe, Scarborough then attacked the Republicans in the House who have nonetheless sided with President Donald Trump in calling the probe a “witch hunt.”

“They are not just covering for Donald Trump anymore, they are not Trump’s chumps anymore, they are Vladimir Putin’s useful idiots,” he said. “Mueller’s indicted more Russians than Americans. This is a Russian story that these Republican dupes in the House of Representatives, they’re are covering for Putin. They should get their contributions converted to rubles now!”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) pointed out that Mueller’s last major indictment left no doubt that Russian President Vladimir Putin had to have ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails.

“The remarkable thing about this indictment is, there’s no way these Russians were freelancing,” he said. “They are military intelligence operatives under orders from Vladimir Putin. Instead of inviting him to this country, he should be indicted in this country.”

Scarborough then mused about referring to House Republicans as “Putin’s poodles,” although Blumenthal said that comparison was an “injustice” to dogs everywhere.

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This time they’ve surely got him. Pack your bags, Mr. President. The game is up. Because this week we learned that . . . that . . . well, there’s this tape, see, recorded by Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen in September of 2016, during which the then-presidential candidate discussed setting up a company for the purpose of paying off alleged former paramour Karen McDougal to make her go away.

Did Trump and Cohen actually pay her off? No, but . . . but . . . c’mon, it would have been a campaign-finance violation! If it had happened. Or it was sort of a campaign-finance violation once removed, because the company that owns the National Enquirer paid for the rights to the McDougal story but then never ran anything on it, and maybe Trump knew about this!

Trump-is-doomed stories are one of the media’s favorite fairy tales. Remember when you saw “Peter Pan” when you were 4 and you actually thought that clapping for Tinkerbell would bring her back to life? Pundits think that if they cheer loudly enough for Trump to get eighty-sixed, it’ll happen. His (first?) term in office is more than a third over, and the Very Serious Commentators have been ushering him out the door the entire time. Or at least they’ve been trying to. It turns out that Trump doesn’t pay a lot of attention to the usher-pundits.

“Michael Cohen and the End Stage of the Trump Presidency,” ran a headline in The New Yorker. That was back on April 14. Writer Adam Davidson gravely averred, “This is the week we know, with increasing certainty, that we are entering the last phase of the Trump Presidency. This doesn’t feel like a prophecy; it feels like a simple statement of the apparent truth.”

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Months after an extremist attack killed four U.S. soldiers, the American military began arming drones in Niger in the latest example of how the use of lethal unmanned aircraft continues to extend across Africa and the Middle East.

In a statement to The Associated Press, military officials confirmed they’ve had armed-drone capability in the West African nation since early this year.

“In coordination with the government of Niger, U.S. Africa Command has armed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft already in Niger to improve our combined ability to respond to threats and other security issues in the region. Armed ISR aircraft began flying in early 2018,” said Samantha Reho, spokesperson for U.S. Africa Command.

The drones are stationed at Niger’s Air Base 101 in Niamey, though military officials would not confirm whether they’ve used the unmanned craft to conduct actual strikes. The drones have enough to range to operate not just in Niger, officials said, and are capable of reaching other West and North African countries.

U.S. drones are expected to ultimately be moved to a massive new air base in central Niger that’s currently under construction.
The presence of armed drones in Niger — coupled with the presumption that they’ve already been used or eventually will be used for military strikes — marks the latest expansion of U.S. use of the craft around the world. Citing authority under the 2001 and 2002 military use authorizations passed by Congress, the Bush, Obama and now Trump administrations have used drone strikes extensively outside the formal combat areas of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Drone strikes have become commonplace in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere across the region.

The decision to arm U.S. drones in Niger came after an October 2017 attack by extremists linked to the Islamic State killed four U.S. soldiers and wounded two others.
Drone strikes have become commonplace in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere across the region.

The decision to arm U.S. drones in Niger came after an October 2017 attack by extremists linked to the Islamic State killed four U.S. soldiers and wounded two others.

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Mollie Tibbetts, the 20-year-old University of Iowa student who vanished earlier this month after heading out for a jog, may have returned to her boyfriend’s house and evidence reportedly suggested she was doing homework late on the night she disappeared.

Family members told local CBS affiliate KCCI the new information on Saturday, but authorities did not give any new timeline—in order not to hurt the search.

She was last seen on July 18 running in Brooklyn, Iowa. She was staying at her boyfriend’s home at the time of her disappearance. She was there to watch his dogs because he had a construction job about 100 miles northeast in Dubuque.

Authorities said they’ve “put together a pretty solid timeline” of what Tibbetts was doing prior to her disappearance. Friends and family say Tibbetts, an avid runner, was usually wearing her Fitbit. Authorities reportedly searched cornfields and a nearby pig farm, but there has been no sign of the girl.

Tibbetts was born in San Francisco and lived in Oakland until she moved to Iowa with her mother when she was in second grade, the Des Moines Register reported. Her father, who lives in Fresno, reportedly flew to Iowa to assist the search.

Rick Rahn, a special agent in charge at the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), told Fox News Friday that they “anticipate additional sites” will come into the picture.

“We’re looking at anybody and everybody that would lead us to locating her,” he said, noting that “her missing is suspicious” and that authorities are “hoping to locate her sooner than later.”

Rahn also told Fox News that investigators have received “zero information” indicating that Tibbetts was a runaway or had a medical reason for her disappearance.

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