North Korea, Venezuela, Chad among 8 countries on new US travel ban

An international passenger (L) arrives at Dulles International Airport as a man (R) waits for loved ones to arrive in Dulles, Virginia, U.S. on Monday. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 September 2017
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North Korea, Venezuela, Chad among 8 countries on new US travel ban

WASHINGTON: Citizens of eight countries will face new restrictions on entry to the US under a proclamation signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday.
The new rules, which will impact the citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, will go into effect on October 18.
The restrictions rage from full travel bans on nationals from countries like Syria to more targeted restrictions. A suspension of non-immigrant visas to citizens for Venezuela, for instance, applies only to senior government officials and their immediate families.
The announcement comes the same day as Trump’s temporary ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries is set to expire, 90 days after it went into effect. That ban had barred citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” from entering the US
“As President, I must act to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people,” reads the proclamation.
Officials stressed that valid visas would not be revoked as a result of the proclamation. The order also permits, but does not guarantee, case-by-case waivers .
The restrictions are targeted at countries that Department of Homeland Security officials say refuse to share information with the US or haven’t taken necessary security precautions.
“The acting secretary has recommended actions that are tough and that are tailored, including restrictions and enhanced screening for certain countries,” said Miles Taylor, counselor to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, said Friday.
Unlike Trump’s first travel ban, which sparked chaos at airports across the country and a flurry of legal challenges, officials said they had been working for months on the new rules, in collaboration with various agencies and in conversation with foreign governments.
The restrictions are based on a new baseline developed by DHS that includes factors such as whether countries issue electronic passports with biometric information and share information about travelers’ terror-related and criminal histories. The US then shared those benchmarks with every country in the world and gave them 50 days to comply.
The eight countries are those that refused or were unable to comply.
Trump last week called for a “tougher” travel ban after a bomb partially exploded on a London subway.
“The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!” he tweeted.
Critics have accused Trump of overstepping his authority and violating the US Constitution’s protections against religious bias. Trump had called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” during his campaign.
The new policy could complicate the Supreme Court’s review of the order, which is scheduled for argument next month.


Indian court finds spiritual guru guilty of raping devotee

Updated 25 April 2018
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Indian court finds spiritual guru guilty of raping devotee

NEW DELHI: An Indian court on Wednesday found a high-profile spiritual guru Asaram Bapu guilty of raping a teenage female devotee in 2013 and he faces a maximum of life in prison.
The verdict against 77-year-old Bapu was read out inside a prison in the city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan state because of fears that his followers may resort to violence.
The case is the latest in a series of high-profile rape cases in India that have fueled public protests and raised questions about how police handle the cases and treat the victims.
In August last year, another popular and flamboyant Indian spiritual guru, Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of raping two female followers.
Judge Madhusudhan Sharma will announce the prison term for Bapu later after hearing arguments from the prosecution and Bapu’s attorneys.
Bapu has denied the rape and can appeal his conviction in a higher court.
The girl in her complaint to the police in 2013 accused Bapu of raping her when she visited his retreat in Jodhpur with her mother. The girl’s family said they had been followers of Bapu for more than a decade.
Bapu has been in prison since his arrest in the case in 2013.
On Wednesday, security was tight around the prison complex and in states where the self-styled guru has a considerable following.
Religious sects also wield considerable political clout in India with several politicians as followers. Asaram is also on trial along with his son Narayan Sai in a separate rape case where two sisters have accused the two men of sexual assault.