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Hackers Target Politicians With Fake News Website

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The latest attack on a fake news website has made headlines across the US, Australia, China, and the UK. Hackers used reverse engineering to identify their targets and then contacted them via email pretending to be a legitimate news site. They asked journalists to write reviews and stories about their website. The websites looked very similar to the real thing, except that they had a fake backend.

Hackers target individuals on Facebook

Facebook recently discovered a cyber-espionage campaign by Iranian hackers that targeted US military personnel on the social networking site. The group used fake news sites and online personas to trick victims into divulging sensitive information. The campaign was part of a larger online espionage campaign, according to Facebook.

The hackers used fake accounts on the social network, filling them with fake information and trying to befriend the targeted victims. The operation was active since 2011, and it was described by Facebook as “one of the most elaborate cyber espionage campaigns in history”. The hackers’ tactics were extremely sophisticated, establishing connections and credibility by pretending to be victims’ colleagues and friends.

The scammers spread their posts by leveraging Facebook’s advertising tools. They usually get fake users or regular users to spread their posts, hoping that enough users will fall for the scam. The goal of this scam is to gain the personal information of victims and to gain access to their devices. These accounts are also used for spreading malware. As a result, Facebook has tightened its ad delivery platform to limit the reach of these accounts.

The new “state-sponsored” warning system on Facebook may be a public relations effort for the company. The social networking giant has already been collaborating with U.S. government agencies, handing over data to them in the past. The move may also be intended to deter people from mining Facebook systems for information.

The recent phishing campaigns involving Facebook and fake news websites have become increasingly sophisticated. In one recent attack, actors believed to be linked to Iran set up a fake news website to spread false information and forged relationships with high-level U.S. government officials. Ultimately, the company took the necessary steps to protect its users.

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The hackers also use malware that installs itself on Android devices using fake versions of encrypted messaging apps. The malware uses accessibility features and fake profiles to convince their targets to install a fake application. This malware can steal information and access the microphone and camera.

Hackers target companies with fake news site

Hackers are targeting political institutions to undermine democratic institutions, as well as to chip away at the relations between countries. They target politicians and government officials by phishing for their email credentials. The attacks have sparked a new focus on political cyber-security. Parties are now investing in staff and resources to protect campaign data and off-the-record conversations.

The cyberattacks began in June 2022, when hackers hacked the accounts of Greens party members in Germany. Two politicians were compromised, Annalena Baerbock, the German Foreign Minister, and Robert Habeck, the Norwegian Minister of Economic Affairs. Norwegian security authorities traced the attacks to Russian-backed cyber actors. A DDoS attack on the website of the Port of London Authority in 2021 forced the website to go offline, and an Iranian group claimed responsibility. In May 2022, a phishing attack targeted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Jordan. Researchers attributed this attack to an Iranian cyber-espionage actor.

The hacking activity is spreading across social media networks. Several social media platforms, including Twitter, have reported fake news and hacked pages. Twitter has suspended several accounts and blocked several links. The investigation revealed that the hacker was attempting to influence public conversation about the situation in Ukraine. The hacking group behind the hacked accounts, dubbed Ghostwriter, allegedly gained access to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. The group attempted to post videos showing Ukrainian soldiers being weakened and surrounded by white flags of surrender.

The fake news site Red Ladon spoofs popular media websites, such as BBC News. It also infected devices with malware known as ScanBox. This malware is capable of keylogging and browser fingerprinting. It is one of the most sophisticated attacks targeting politicians yet. The group is now being investigated by various intelligence agencies.

The hackers also hacked the social media accounts of the British Royal Army. They took over its Twitter and YouTube accounts. The hacking also forced the government to issue a warning to strengthen network security. In addition, hackers have attacked the websites of various European countries, including Albania and Lithuania. One of these was the e-Albania portal, which was used to access public services. A Ukrainian media company was also hit by hackers. The President of Ukraine blamed Russia for the attack.

Qatar Labour Ministry criticise Amnesty International

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Doha: The Ministry of Labour has issued a statement in response to Amnesty’s report “Reality Check 2021: A Year to the 2022 WorldCup”, stating that Qatar rejects its assertion that labour reforms have not translated into changes on the ground for hundreds of thousands of migrant workers.

 

The statement is as follows:

Qatar rejects Amnesty’s assertion that labour reforms have not translated into changes on the ground for hundreds of thousands of migrant workers.

Amnesty fails to document a single story from among the 242,870 workers who have successfully changed jobs since barriers were removed in September 2020, or from the more than 400,000 workers who have directly benefitted from the new minimum wage through salary increases and other financial incentives.

Since exit permits were removed in 2018, hundreds of thousands of workers have left Qatar and returned without permission from their employer; improvements to the Wage Protection System now protect more than 96 percent of eligible workers from wage abuse; new visa centres in labour-sending countries have significantly reduced exploitative practices before workers arrive in Qatar; and new rules extend the ban on summer working to minimise the effects of heat stress.

Qatar has also strengthened its enforcement measures to safeguard workers and prosecute employers who fail to comply with the law. The number of inspectors employed by the Ministry of Labour has increased year on year, as has their capacity to thoroughly investigate working conditions and refer violators for sentencing in the labour courts.

In the first half of 35,280,2021 accommodation and worksite inspections were carried out and 13,724 penalties were issued to violating companies, including worksite closures, fines and prison sentences. A further 4,840 site visits were made by labour inspectors to raise awareness of the new laws among employers and employees.

Every year, more companies are held accountable for violating the law. Systemic reform is a long-term process and shifting the behaviour of every company takes time. Through its actions, the government is sending a strong message to companies that violations will not be tolerated.

Qatar has never shied away from acknowledging that its labour system is still a work in progress. The government is committed to engaging collaboratively and constructively with international partners and critics to further improve standards for all migrant workers in Qatar

Qatar will therefore continue to consult with international experts including the ILO and trade unions. International NGOs will also be routinely consulted to provide their recommendations.

The reality is that no other country has come so far in such a short amount of time. Following Qatar’s lead, and as a sign of the programme’s wider impact, other countries in the region have now taken steps to introduce their own labour reforms.

Labour reform is a complex task, and Qatar believes that solutions are best found through dialogue and engagement. For this reason, and despite Amnesty’s criticism, Qatar will continue to work constructively with a range of labour experts and practitioners to build on the progress that has been made.

Taiwan May Top Biden – Xi Call, But Experts Say Not to Expect Much

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Taiwan is expected to top the agenda when U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet virtually late Monday in Washington to discuss how both countries can “responsibly manage” their ongoing competition, experts say.

White House officials announced the meeting Friday following a surprise agreement on climate change made between China and the U.S. on the sidelines of the U.N. Summit on Climate Change, known as COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland.

After finding common ground at COP26, the president’s call is expected to touch on some sensitive topics, such as China’s nuclear buildup and a potential trade agreement that could end a long-standing dispute that began under former U.S. President Donald Trump. It could also touch on Taiwan. And while experts do not expect much change in dialogue on the topic, the island could find itself higher on the agenda than years past.

“Xi Jinping will be trying to suss out the Biden administration’s overarching approach to China, which remains unclear, and may seek out a clearer picture of what, if anything, the administration has planned for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics,” said Michael Mazza, a nonresident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank. “The leaders are likely to reaffirm the recent joint climate declaration, discuss North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, and address energy security concerns.”

“I wouldn’t expect to see new language on Taiwan in the readout or joint statement, if there is one. I think what will be notable is that, in whatever release follows the meeting, the Taiwan concerns will be front and center, rather than a lesser included issue, as has been the case in the past,” Mazza added.

Biden and Xi last spoke in early September, but shortly afterwards China escalated air sorties into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) to record levels in October, around the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party, prompting warnings from top U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The virtual meeting is the result of a six-hour dialogue between Chinese diplomat and Politburo member Yang Jiechi and U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan held in Switzerland in October.

Thursday, Blinken said the U.S. would “take action” if Taiwan were attacked, one of the strongest commitments yet from the Biden administration toward the self-ruled democracy. The U.S. formally maintains a policy of “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan, but under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act it has pledged to “make available” weapons and services to allow Taiwan to maintain a “sufficient self-defense capability.”

Unification with Taiwan, whose formal name is the Republic of China, is a long-term goal of China’s Communist Party. Earlier this month, the Pentagon released a report about China’s defense capability and said the People’s Liberation Army may be capable of “more credible military operations” toward Taiwan by 2027.

The report also disclosed that China’s nuclear arsenal is growing faster than the Department of Defense had predicted it would in 2020. China is expected to have acquired up to 700 nuclear warheads by 2027 and 1,000 by 2030.

Austin Wang, an assistant professor in political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said despite the build-up of tension in the Taiwan Strait, he does not expect much substantive change in U.S.-China dialogue from previous calls.

“I expect that Xi will say something like ‘not to intervene in China’s domestic affairs’ and ‘both should obey the One China principle,’ while Biden would likely to ‘address the concern’ about human rights, which includes the Taiwan issue,” Wang said.

Wang said he expects Chinese state media will use the call to show the U.S. abides by the “One China” principle – the Communist Party’s official view that there is single sovereign state of China that includes Taiwan.

In Taiwan, he said, response will likely follow political lines. Opposition members supporting Taiwan’s Nationalist Party may take Chinese reporting as a sign the U.S. is not serious about its promises of support to Taiwan. Supporters of the ruling Democratic People’s Party and Taiwan independence, meanwhile, would watch for whether discussion of the island is framed as a domestic human rights issue or as part of China’s foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific.

Lev Nachman, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University, said expectations for the call should be in line with the fact that it is a largely symbolic discussion between two leaders with many disagreements.

“Issues like climate change and trade are topics both sides can hopefully find grounds for cooperation on. The challenge will be how to navigate more contentious topics like the Olympics or Taiwan in a way that still allows for some substantive progress to be made without leading to a stalemate,” Nachman said. “Ultimately, this is about finding starting points for dialogue and won’t ease tensions all at once, but hopefully it leads to some sort of cooperative understanding.”

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Kenyan, Ethiopian Leaders Discuss Tigray Conflict Ahead of Blinken Visit

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken departs for Kenya on Monday, the first stop on a three-nation tour of Africa. Blinken will meet with Kenya’s president, who just returned from Ethiopia, to discuss that country’s internal war. Some experts fear Ethiopia’s political leadership will not agree to end the yearlong conflict.

This week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken kicks off his visit to Africa by stopping in Kenya before heading to Nigeria and Senegal.

Blinken will meet Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta to discuss East Africa’s regional political and security situation.

Professor Chacha Nyaigotti Chacha, a specialist in diplomacy and international relations at the University of Nairobi, says Blinken’s visit shows the urgency needed for stability in the region.

“To show that there is peace and tranquility in the Horn of Africa, America recognizes the role that Kenya will have to continue to play to support the international community initiatives which are being undertaken by IGAD, the East African Community and by the African Union Commission and the world at large,” said Chacha.

The escalating war in Ethiopia has raised fears of a coup and instability in East Africa’s most populous nation.

The rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front and other armed groups have threatened to march to Addis Ababa to overthrow Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy’s government.

Kenya has been pushing for a ceasefire in the yearlong war, and on Sunday, Kenyatta met Abiy and Ethiopian President Sehle-Work Zewde to discuss security issues ahead of Secretary Blinken’s visit to Kenya.

Murithi Mutiga is the Horn of Africa project director at the International Crisis Group. He says international efforts are being made to help Ethiopia.

“We understand that there is a very significant quiet mediation going on in the background including the Kenyans, the former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and we hope that this will continue and potentially a resolution will be found,” said Mutiga. “But you know the lesson of history has been that the Ethiopians usually try to settle their dispute internally by force. So, unfortunately, we have to be a little realistic about what is possible.”

U.S. Horn of Africa envoy Jeffrey Feltman came to the region early this month, but the security situation has remained the same.

Mutiga says the Ethiopian government and its opponents need to find a quick solution to the crisis.

“We now see that the war has entered its second year with no end in sight,” said Mutiga. “It’s more critical than ever given Ethiopia’s contribution to peace within the region. It’s more urgent than ever that they find a resolution, because continued instability in Ethiopia will definitely have a very significant spillover effect, not to mention the horrible cost internally in terms of lives lost but also an economy that is also in critical care.”

Last week, the U.S. government imposed sanctions on the Eritrean military, officials and businesses to show its opposition to the war. Eritrean troops have fought alongside Ethiopian troops in the north of the country.

The warring sides continue to dig into the crisis, as Tigray leadership push for the ouster of Prime Minister Abiy while the government is demanding recognition before any negotiation can take place.

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Three refugees claim the UAE funded ISIS war crimes during Syrian civil war in landmark UK court case

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Three refugees are arguing the UAE funded war crimes by ISIS terrorists in the Syrian civil war in a landmark case in British legal history.

The men, who are from Syria but are now asylum seekers in the UK, claim Arab officials financed human rights abuses in the war-torn country in 2015.

They said they saw severe torture, vicious beatings and property destruction committed by jihadists they say were armed by the Gulf state.

One claimant testified ‘the smell of corpses and death spread in my beloved town, and there was no life left in it’.

The three are pursuing legal action against the UAE through the High Court in England.

The claim would be the first of its kind as they seek to blow apart the use of the sovereign immunity defence in cases involving human rights abuses, such as torture.

If successful, it would open the floodgates for people to hold foreign state sponsors of militant and terror groups to account through UK courts.

Biden: ‘Very Optimistic’ on Approval for Social Safety Net Spending Plan

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U.S. President Joe Biden said Monday he is “very optimistic” on completing a deal this week on his pared-down social safety net spending plan, an assessment echoed by one of the centrist Democratic lawmakers who has been holding back on his support.

Biden told reporters in Delaware that his Sunday meeting with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who has sought sharp cuts in Biden’s original $3.5 trillion package, “went well.”

They discussed final details in the package that could be trimmed to about half that amount, with Manchin insisting on a $1.5 trillion figure.

“A few more things to work out, but it went well,” Biden said.

Later, Manchin said that he believes there will be a “conceptual framework” on Biden’s package later in the week. Even with the spending cutbacks, it would amount to one of the largest expansions of the U.S. government’s social safety net for American families since the 1960s.

But it remained unclear where the other Democratic holdout, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, stands on the pared-back version. She has opposed Biden’s plan to raise taxes on corporations and individuals earning more than $400,000 a year.

Subsequently, Biden and key Democratic lawmakers are now proposing to ramp up enforcement against tax cheaters to increase government revenue and craft new tax increases that would target the estimated 700 U.S. billionaires.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CNN on Sunday that the legislation would take aim at “exceptionally wealthy individuals” and likely tax their unrealized capital gains that now are only taxed when they sell assets.

The support of both Manchin and Sinema, the most politically moderate lawmakers in the Senate Democratic caucus, is essential if any Biden social safety net legislation is to win congressional approval.

With the 100-member Senate equally split between Republicans and Democrats, all 50 Democrats would need to support the legislation, added along with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. Currently, no Republicans support the legislation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, told CNN on Sunday that even at half its original size the package is “still bigger than anything we have ever done in terms of addressing the needs of America’s working families,” with universal pre-kindergarten schooling and tax credits for all but the wealthiest parents.

She said 90% of the measure “is agreed to.”

As details of the social safety net plan are finalized, the House leader said her plan is for the chamber to vote later this week on a bipartisan trillion-dollar infrastructure measure already approved by the Senate to fix the country’s deteriorating roads and bridges and expand broadband internet service throughout the United States.

“I’m optimistic we can do that,” she said.

The infrastructure spending plan drew the support of 19 Republicans in the Senate, along with that of all 50 Democrats, but progressive Democrats in the House blocked its passage there until agreement could be reached on the social safety net legislation that they consider a bigger legislative priority.

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Think Tank: UAE remains key Middle East money laundering hub

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A report by Tactics Institiute For Security and Counter Terrorism criticised the continued money laundering activities in United Arab Emirates and called for strict rules to be implemented to end the phenomenon. The report claimed that UAE has failed in dealing with the crisis and which was exploited by Terrorist organisations and mafia groups who launder their money in real estate investment and other forms of business.

 

Previously, the world’s main anti-money laundering (AML) watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has said the United Arab Emirates needs to make “fundamental and major improvements” to ensure its systems are more effective.

 

In its latest assessment of the country, published today, the Paris-based organisation says the UAE has made “significant improvements” to its AML and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) system in recent years and that “in many respects, the elements of an effective AML/CFT system are in place”.

 

“Fundamental and major improvements are needed across the UAE in order to demonstrate that the system cannot be used for [money laundering / terrorist financing] and the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” the report says.

 

The report points out that the fragmented structure of the UAE’s economy – the seven emirates that make up the country between them operate two financial free zones, 29 commercial free zones and 39 company registries – leaves it vulnerable to regulatory arbitrage and it adds that the risk of criminals being able to conceal beneficial ownership remains high.

 

 

 

Tactics institute report added that, It is not just the property market which lies exposed. The UAE has now become one of the world’s major hubs of the trade in gold and diamonds. The majority of these refineries are based in Dubai. Indeed, by 2008 the UAE was fourth in the world (behind Switzerland, China and India) in the amount of gold, by weight, that it imported17. But whereas most gold importers import gold from just a few nations, the UAE sources its supply from a diverse range. Some of these, such as the Republic of Congo, can be deeply problematic, with armed groups profiting from the sale. As we will see in Chapter 4, organised crime groups have also exploited this route, washing their ill-gotten gains through Dubai’s gold markets.

 

Free Trade Areas are yet another aspect of the UAE’s economic landscape which are open to abuse. There are approximately 45 such areas and they are largely exempt from all regulation. About thirty of these are based in Dubai and account for 41% of the city state’s trade, a contribution of 31.9% of its GDP. Once again Dubai is out front of the UEA as a whole, Free Trade areas accounting for 19.5% of total exports. The reliance of the UAE, and in particular Dubai, on FTA’s, and their relative lack of oversight, increases the risk of Trade Based Money Laundering – TBML, whereby illicit flows of money are disguised are disguised by trade transactions18.

Finally, the Hawala finance system is of concern. Hawala, or havaleh in Persian, hundi in Hindi and xawala or xawilaad in Somali, is a way of transferring money overseas which avoids traditional banking or financial networks. Consequently, it is popular among migrant workers and other who don’t have a bank account or cannot access the regular financial system.

 

The report added, “To truly shed itself of its reputation as a global centre of money laundering, the UAE needs to urgently enact similar legislation. Tara Hanlon should never have been allowed to enter Dubai with £3.5 million without explaining, and proving, a legitimate source for the money. Similarly, all the individuals mentioned in this report with luxury properties who are either politically exposed people, or who have been accused of illicit activities, should be asked to prove the origin of their assets. If they can, they can keep them. If they can’t, they should be confiscated.

To be sure, the UEA authorities will need to be brave. Many of those accused of corruption in Afghanistan are influential and well-connected. But the international community needs to pressure them to do it. And once again, other countries have led the way.”

 

Zamira Hajiyeva is the wife of Jahangir Hajiyev, a banker currently in prison in Azerbaijan, and reports of her lavish spending, which included £16.3 million at Harrods over the course of a decade, including £2000 on cold meats in a single visit, are difficult to reconcile with her husband’s official salary, which ranged between $29’000 and $70’000 per annum71.

When Tara Hanlon can simply pass through Dubai International Airport with millions in her suitcase and not have to declare their source, it’s difficult to imagine the UAE authorities demanding to know how someone like Zamira Hajiyeva can afford her spending. But only when they do, will Dubai, and the UEA more widely, become an unwelcoming place for criminals, terrorists, and those who wish to strip their countries of their wealth.

US Envoy: Solution on Migration From Haiti Has to Be Led by US, Mexico

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A solution on a new wave of migration from Haiti has to be led by both the United States and Mexico, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar, said Saturday.

“It is a very significant issue for both countries, it’s a significant issue for the Western Hemisphere,” he told a news conference.

Salazar’s comments come a day after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on a visit following a period of strained cooperation.

The Biden administration is increasingly reliant on its southern neighbor to stem migration not only from Central America, but also Haiti and Venezuela.

Guatemalan police said that on Friday night, 126 migrants, most of them Haitians, had been abandoned in a trailer.

 

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Green Card Lottery Reopens; Past Winners Still in Limbo

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As the U.S. government officially opens its diversity visa lottery program at the start of a new fiscal year, thousands of past winners from Afghanistan, Egypt, Peru, Iran and other nations continue to endure processing delays that are dimming hopes of a new life in America.

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that registration for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program for 2023 — popularly known as green card lottery — had begun. Congress authorized 55,000 green cards per year for immigrants around the world to promote diversity in the U.S.

Registration starts well before any given fiscal year — in this case, 2023 — to allow time for processing applications. But delays have become chronic and spawned legal action.

While accepting new applications, U.S. officials acknowledge a severe backlog in processing existing ones, many of which were filed during the former Trump administration and have been slowed by the pandemic.

For people like Samar, a 35-year-old historian from Egypt and a 2021 diversity visa winner, the window for getting authorization to travel to the U.S. is closing. An outspoken critic of human rights violations in her home country, she asked VOA not to reveal her last name.

“My fiscal year (deadline) ended on September 30, 2021. (The U.S. government) has not replied to the majority of my inquiries about my (diversity visa) case,” Samar said. “This immigration opportunity is not a luxury for my family. … My family and I have experienced police harassment since 2016. … This immigration opportunity will help me and my family start a humane and safe life.”

Visa eligibility does not transfer to the following year. The entire process must be completed in a year. With time running out, the mother of three decided to join other diversity visa winners in a lawsuit against the U.S. government in hopes of getting travel documents.

In an email to VOA, a State Department spokesperson said, “Being randomly chosen as a selectee does not guarantee that you will receive a visa or a visa interview. Selection merely means that the person is eligible to participate in the DV program.”

The explanation is of little comfort to Samar.

“My husband and I have been applying for (diversity visas) since 2000. We have three kids. We followed all procedures and submitted all required forms and documents,” she said. “We even tried to leave for the EU but couldn’t get a visa.”

Turbulent years

The diversity visa program has had bumpy years of late.

In 2017, then-President Donald Trump announced a series of actions that blocked people from Muslim-majority countries from coming to the United States.

Then, in March 2020, Trump shut down consulates around the world amid the coronavirus pandemic. His administration subsequently announced a ban on certain immigrant visas, arguing it was needed to protect the American economy.

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Biden is First President to Mark Indigenous Peoples Day

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President Joe Biden on Friday issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples Day, lending the most significant boost yet to efforts to refocus the federal holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus toward an appreciation of Native Americans.

The day will be observed Oct. 11, along with Columbus Day, which is established by Congress. While Native Americans have campaigned for years for local and national days in recognition of the country’s Indigenous peoples, Biden’s announcement appeared to catch many by surprise.

“This was completely unexpected. Even though we’ve been talking about it and wanting it for so long,” said Hillary Kempenich, an artist and member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. In 2019, she and other tribal members successfully campaigned for her town of Grand Forks, North Dakota, to replace Columbus Day with a day recognizing Indigenous peoples.

“I’m kind of overwhelmed with joy,” said Kempenich. She was waiting Friday afternoon to share the news with her eighth-grade daughter, who grew up challenging teachers’ depictions of Columbus.

“For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures,” Biden wrote in the Indigenous Peoples Day proclamation. “Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society.”

In a separate proclamation on Columbus Day, Biden praised the role of Italian Americans in U.S. society but also referenced the violence and harm Columbus and other explorers of the age brought about on the Americas.

Making landfall in what is now the Bahamas on Oct. 12, 1492, Columbus, an Italian, was the first of a wave of European explorers who decimated Indigenous populations in the Americas in quests for gold and other wealth, including people to enslave.

“Today, we also acknowledge the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities,” Biden wrote. “It is a measure of our greatness as a Nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes of our past — that we face them honestly, we bring them to the light, and we do all we can to address them.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “felt strongly” about recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day. Asked if Biden might seek to end marking Columbus Day as a federal holiday, she replied, “I don’t have any predictions at this point.”

John Echohawk, executive director of the Native American Rights Fund, said the president’s decision to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day was an important step.

“Big changes happen from each small step, and we hope this administration intends to continue making positive steps towards shaping a brighter future for all citizens,” Echohawak said.

Biden’s acknowledgment of the suffering of Native Americans also marked a break from President Donald Trump’s ardent defense of “intrepid heroes” like Columbus in his 2020 proclamation of the holiday.

“Sadly, in recent years, radical activists have sought to undermine Christopher Columbus’ legacy,” Trump said at the time. “These extremists seek to replace discussion of his vast contributions with talk of failings, his discoveries with atrocities, and his achievements with transgressions.”

Biden made the announcement on the same day the White House was disclosing its plans to restore territory to two sprawling national monuments in Utah that Trump had stripped of protections. One, Bears Ears, is on land that Native American tribes consider sacred.

Biden’s campaign against Trump saw tribal activists mobilize to get out votes for the Democrat, in activism that tribal members credited with helping Biden win some Western states.

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