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President Biden Ends Trump’s Muslim Ban in Day One Executive Order

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Muslim, African, and Arab Americans, and people around the world Wednesday celebrated President Joe Biden’s rescinding of the racist Trump-era travel ban that mostly targeted immigrants and visitors from Muslim countries.

The lifting of the so-called Muslim ban was one of numerous executive actions taken by Biden shortly after his inauguration and fufills a campaign promise he made to end the prohibition on “day one” of his administration. 

During the course of Trump’s presidency, more than 41,000 visa requests were denied (pdf) under the ban, which ripped families apart, prevented people from the proscribed countries from getting healthcare and education in the U.S., and deprived the United States of doctors, nurses, and other medical workers during the coronavirus pandemic. 

There was a great sense of joy and relief at the ban’s demise. The NO BAN Act Coalition, a broad alliance of 81 national and local civil rights, faith, and community groups fighting for anti-discrimination legislation that is now included in Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act, issued a statement bidding “goodbye to the Muslim and African ban.”

The statement continued: 

Almost four years ago, one of President [Donald] Trump’s first acts in office was to ban Muslims from the United States. Three years later, he expanded the ban to include several African countries. Today, it’s fitting that one of Biden’s first acts is to rescind the Muslim and African Ban. This is a momentous occasion for the millions of Americans who were separated by the ban and those who stood up against this injustice at airports nationwide.

Thank you, President Biden for staying true to your promise to repeal this bigoted policy immediately. The Muslim and African Ban was never about national security, it was always rooted in bigotry and called into question what values America stands for. However, just ending the ban through an executive order won’t stop this from happening again. That’s why we applaud the historic inclusion of the NO BAN Act in the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021.

Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-San Francisco Bay Area, told Religion News Service that Biden’s order would “correct the course” of the lives disrupted by Trump.

“Tens of thousands of impacted individuals will now have the chance to be with their families during cherished and challenging times,” said Billoo. “While we know our work is far from over, today we celebrate the heroic efforts undertaken by so many over the last several years in our effort to repeal the Muslim and African bans.”

Some of the most poignant reaction to the end of the ban came from people directly affected by it. Ramez Alghazzouli, a Syrian immigrant who had been separated from his wife for a year due to the policy, told Religion News Service it felt like a boulder had been removed from his chest. But he also said the travel prohibition irreparably damaged his family.

“The ban itself will be reversed but no one can reverse our feelings and emotions and the time we lost while being separated from each other,” said Alghazzouli. “It’ll still be part of our life and history. The Muslim ban is the nuke that we survived but we are still suffering from its collateral damage.”

There was no shortage of suggestions on what Biden could do help heal the harm caused by travel ban, from ending Trump-era “extreme vetting” of Muslims and others entering the U.S., to increasing the number of refugees allowed into the country, to ending U.S. wars that have killed at least hundreds of thousands of Muslim men, women, and children since 2001. 

Republished from CommonDreams.org under Creative Commons

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Bizarre

Landlord Accused Of Kidnapping Tenants to Evict, Dumping Them in Cemetery

Justin MacLachlan

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Shockingly a New York landlord has been accused of kidnapping two tenants to evict them.

Shawn Douglas is accused of kidnapping two of his tenants from his property and dumping them in a cemetery 30 miles away, ABC News 10 reported.

The two tenants accused Douglas of kidnapping them while armed from their home at his property in the South End neighborhood of Albany, NY. Douglas is out on bail following the disturbing case.

In the police report, the two accusers state they were abducted, restrained with zip ties, and then covered with pillowcases before being dumped off in a cemetery in Ghent.

One of the victims was eventually able to free themselves from the restraints to seek help at a nearby house where they called the authorities on Douglas.

“He’s lucky they came out of that alive. They could have froze to death out there,” Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple told NBC News 10.

New York, has had an existing ban on evictions which expires on May 1st due to the current pandemic. Following the lifting of the ban on evictions, many court cases are expected to attempt to evict tenants across the state.

The Albany Police Department has not released any additional details about the case at this time. But more people could be charged in connection with the alleged kidnapping according to ABC News 10.

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Bizarre

FBI ‘Aware Of’ Alleged Spotting of UFO by American Airlines Pilot Over New Mexico

Elias Marat

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New Mexico has long been considered the mecca for people interested in UFO incidents, with the southwestern state attracting tens of thousands of annual visitors to the alleged sites of close encounters in Roswell, as well as other sightings such as the Lonnie Zamora incident and the Aztec UFO crash.  

With such a rich history of alleged sightings of unidentified flying objects in New Mexico, it should come as no surprise that another close encounter has been reported – this time by a commercial airline pilot on Sunday afternoon.

At around 1 p.m. local time on Sunday, an unidentified aerial craft reportedly whooshed past American Airlines flight 2292 in the northern part of the state, startling the pilot who expressed his shock over the strange object flying overhead at a breathtaking rate of speed.

In a 15-second recording that was obtained by self-described “stealth chaser” Steve Douglass of Amarillo, Texas, and published on his blog Deep Black Horizon, the pilot can be heard excitedly communicating with air traffic controllers about the strange sighting he saw above the clouds during the passenger flight.

“Do you have any targets up here?” the pilot asks the Federal Aviation Administration traffic controllers.

“We just had something go right over the top of us,” he continues. “I hate to say this, but it looked like a long, cylindrical object that almost looked like a cruise missile type of thing moving really fast, and went right over the top of us.”

However, the response from Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center can’t be heard due to local air traffic in Amarillo interfering with the channel, Douglass said. The blogger and author of “The Comprehensive Guide to Military Monitoring” also noted that there was no “no significant military aircraft presence was noted on ADS-B logs” and that the flight proceeded to land without incident at its destination in Phoenix, Arizona.

While the FAA has yet to comment on the strange encounter, American Airlines has confirmed that the recording of the radio communications with the pilot is fully authentic.

“Following a debrief with our Flight Crew and additional information received, we can confirm this radio transmission was from American Airlines Flight 2292 on Feb. 21,” a spokesman for the airliner wrote in an email to Fox News. The spokesman added that any additional inquiries should be addressed to the FBI.

However, the FBI response was equally opaque.

“The FBI is aware of the reported incident,” bureau spokesman Frank Connor wrote in an email. “While our policy is to neither confirm nor deny investigations, the FBI works continuously with our federal, state, local and tribal partners to share intelligence and protect the public.”

Furthermore, authorities at the nearby Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque reported that they had been alerted to the supposed encounter through the media, but officials at the base were not discussing the matter.

“We have no knowledge of this. We’re not aware of anything,” Lally Laksbergs told Wall Street Journal. Officials at White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico have not yet responded to media inquiries.

However, Douglass has expressed doubt that the close encounter was with a military projectile.

“It was a Sunday. Basically, it’s a military’s day off,” Douglass told KVII News, where he works as a photographer. “When tests occur, the military notifies the FAA, aircraft are kept out of the area and their schedules and strict flight lanes as aircraft need to stay in to not interfere with these tests. That’s not what happened.”

“Whatever it was came fast, right at them and right over them, which gave them a big enough scare that they had to report it,” he added. “If the military can’t explain what it is, what’s flying out there that we don’t know about?”

In recent years, officials with the U.S. government have been increasingly vocal in its discussions of UFOs, which they prefer to refer to as unidentified aerial phenomena or UAPs.

In September 2019, U.S. Navy officials admitted that widely-circulating video footage captured by Navy pilots purportedly showing UFOs flying through the skies did, in fact, depict actual “unknown” objects that flew into U.S. airspace. The videos had been released months prior by To The Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences (TTS), a private “UFO research organization” founded by former Blink 182 frontman Tom De Longe. 

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Activism

Akon Finally Breaks Ground On His Futuristic $10 Billion Solar Powered “Crypto City”

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The rapper, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Akon has been making significant progress on his development plans in Africa, which involve the creation of a futuristic city that runs on clean energy and cryptocurrency.

In January of last year, Akon revealed that his agreements with Senegal President Macky Sall were going forward, and a few months later it was announced that the engineering and consulting firm KE International was awarded a $6 billion contract to build the city. The company previously said it had already received $4 billion from investors for the first two phases of Akon City’s construction, giving the project a price tag of at least $10 billion. 

The project goes much further than just this one city and it has already begun to make an impact across the continent. In the short time since the deal was finalized last year, a large number of solar street lights, and solar home lighting units, have been installed across 14 African countries, according to Akon Lighting Africa.

The effort was made possible by a private-public partnership model and a well-established network of partners including SOLEKTRA INT, SUMEC, and NARI.

Phase 1 of construction on the city is expected to be completed in 2023, and will include roads, a hospital, residences, hotels, a police station, a waste facility, a school, and a solar power plant. The entire city is expected to be finished around 2029. The city’s economy will be facilitated by Akon’s cryptocurrency “Akoin,” which runs on the Stellar blockchain. Stellar is a crypto ecosystem that includes its own cryptocurrency XLM, and also allows for the development of other projects, such as decentralized exchanges and additional currencies like Akoin. Banks around the world have also been considering using the Stellar blockchain for stablecoin deployment. 

Akon believes that cryptocurrency is the solution to the corruption problems that create widespread inequality in Africa because the blockchain provides a record that would make corruption extremely obvious if it were to take place. With an independent cryptocurrency, governments are unable to print money and devalue the currency, and the control of the money is decentralized.

In an interview with TMZ last year, Akon compared the vision that he has for the city with the fictional “Wakanda” from the movie Black Panther.

“This movie literally made an idea of what Africa could really be. It’s just ironic that I was already working on this before the movie came out, but it’s something that helped me a lot when I was trying to explain to explain to people what I was trying to do,” Akon said.

The city’s crypto-economic system will also solve many problems specific to the developing world, like instantly calculating conversation rates for currencies, which is often an obstacle because there are so many different regional currencies and methods of trade. In some cases, people even use prepaid cellphone minutes as a currency because it is easier to use and exchange than traditional currencies. Akon says that the Akoin wallet will allow users to trade between cryptocurrencies, fiat currencies, and cellphone minutes instantly without having to go through a major exchange using Atomic Swap technology. The app will also teach users to become more familiar with the technology in general.

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