Yemeni mother arrives in US to say goodbye to dying son

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Swileh is the Yemeni mother who won her fight for a waiver from the Trump administration's travel ban that would allow her to go to California to see her dying 2-year-old son. (AP)
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Ali Hassan kissing his dying 2-year-old son Abdullah in a Sacramento hospital. (AP)
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The boy's Yemeni mother, blocked by the Trump administration's travel ban, has won her fight for a waiver that would allow her to travel to California to see her son. (AP)
Updated 20 December 2018

Yemeni mother arrives in US to say goodbye to dying son

  • Shaima Swileh wore dark glasses as she walked into the arrivals terminal at San Francisco airport
  • Her two-year-old boy Abdullah Hassan, a US citizen like his father, suffers from a rare genetic brain condition

SAN FRANCISCO: A Yemeni mother who was granted a waiver from President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from several Muslim majority countries has arrived in the US to say goodbye to her dying toddler son.
Shaima Swileh wore dark glasses as she walked into the arrivals terminal at San Francisco airport Wednesday night. A group of supporters carrying placards greeted her.
Her two-year-old boy Abdullah Hassan, a US citizen like his father, suffers from a rare genetic brain condition and is on life support in a hospital in Oakland, California.
But Swileh had been unable to join him due to Trump’s order barring visitors from six countries including Yemen.
After a tearful televised plea from the boy’s father prompted public outrage, the US embassy in Cairo issued a visa for Swileh, who has been living temporarily in Egypt.
After the waiver was granted, her husband, Ali Hassan, expressed relief and said, “This will allow us to mourn with dignity.”
Hassan said he had been ready to take his son off life support last week after doctors said the case was terminal, with his wife only receiving automated replies when inquiring with US authorities on her visa application.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is assisting the family, launched a campaign that it said prompted 15,000 emails to elected officials as well as thousands of tweets.
Abdullah’s grandfather earlier told the San Francisco Chronicle that Swileh was crying every day as she wanted to see her son “one last time.”
“To hold him for at least a minute. She’s not going to see him forever,” he said.

Exceptions to Trump’s ban are exceedingly rare. The American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes Trump’s order, said that only two percent of applicants have been granted waivers.
Trump vowed during the 2016 campaign to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, despite constitutional protections of freedom of religion, after a mass shooting in California by a couple of Pakistani descent.
In an executive order that triggered chaos before court challenges and revisions, Trump blocked new visas to nearly all citizens of five Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen — as well as North Korea and some officials from Venezuela.
A divided Supreme Court in June upheld the ban, which it said was within the president’s powers.


World’s oldest man dies in Japan at 112

Updated 25 February 2020

World’s oldest man dies in Japan at 112

  • Chitetsu Watanabe, who was born on March 5, 1907 in Niigata, north of Tokyo, died on Sunday at his nursing home
  • The news came less than two weeks after Watanabe was officially recognized by Guinness World Records

TOKYO: A Japanese man recently named the world’s oldest living male has died aged 112, a local official said Tuesday.

Chitetsu Watanabe, who was born on March 5, 1907 in Niigata, north of Tokyo, died on Sunday at his nursing home in the same prefecture, the official said.

The news came less than two weeks after he was officially recognized by Guinness World Records.

Watanabe, who had five children, said the secret to longevity was to “not get angry and keep a smile on your face.”

He admitted a penchant for sweets such as custard pudding and ice cream.

The oldest man in Japan is now Issaku Tomoe, who is 110 years old, according to Jiji Press, although it was not clear if Tomoe holds the title globally.

The oldest living person is also Japanese, Kane Tanaka, a 117-year-old woman.

Japan has one of the world’s highest life expectancies and has been home to several people recognized as among the oldest humans to have ever lived.

They include Jiroemon Kimura, the longest-living man on record, who died soon after his 116th birthday in June 2013.

The oldest verified person — Jeanne Louise Calment of France — died in 1997 at the age of 122, according to Guinness.