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Ohio businessman, deported after 38 years in US, vows return



Amer Othman’s life turned upside down in an instant.

The Ohio entrepreneur, who came to the United States 38 years ago and won praise for helping revive once-blighted downtown Youngstown, was arrested during what he thought was another check-in with immigration authorities. He was detained for two weeks and then deported to his native Jordan.

Othman’s supporters in the U.S. view such treatment as a particularly egregious example of the Trump administration’s ramped-up deportation campaign that potentially targets anyone lacking the right papers, including long-time residents with American spouses and children.

Recent cases include a Missouri college lecturer and a Connecticut couple running a nail salon who won last-minute reprieves through local politicians but remain at risk of expulsion.

Supporters of the crackdown say immigration rules must be enforced, regardless of family and community ties of those targeted.

Othman’s battle to remain in the United States goes back to the mid-1990s, when immigration authorities refused to renew his green card, alleging his first marriage in 1980 had been fraudulent.

Othman denies the charge, noting that his ex-wife later retracted an initial statement she said was made under duress. A deportation order was issued in 2007, but Othman he didn’t feel at immediate risk — until last summer — because of ongoing appeals.

Three weeks after his arrival in Jordan, the 57-year-old Othman still seems in shock.

Speaking at his sister’s apartment in the capital, Amman, he said he’ll fight to return to “my Youngstown.”

He might sue the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, which he said locked him up needlessly, treating him like a criminal. “What ICE has done is un-American,” said Othman, whose second wife Fidaa and their four adult daughters are U.S. citizens.

“The American people are completely and absolutely different from that,” Othman said. Tears welled up as he described wide community support, including from Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat, and Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown. “I love the American people. I love my community,” he said.

Ryan was previously able to keep Othman in the country through private bills in Congress, the first submitted in 2013.

Othman’s deportation marks the first time ICE acted against recommendations of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security to hold off on an expulsion while a case is being reviewed, Ryan said.

“Now, here we are with a new set of rules because of the Trump administration,” he said.

Othman’s lawyer, David Leopold, said the deportation was “beyond inexplicable.” He accused the administration of “playing a numbers game, without any coherent strategy.”

ICE did not respond to two emails requesting comment on the Othman case.

Dan Cadman, a former long-time immigration official and fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates for more limits on immigration, said that “the answer in an orderly society cannot be to simply suspend or eliminate deportations.”

“Justice is also due to the American people, not just to Mr. Othman and his family.” he said. “At some point, the reckoning comes due and the bill must be paid. What is the purpose of having laws if they are to mean nothing?”

The Department of Homeland Security launched the crackdown a year ago, scrapping the Obama administration’s instructions to limit deportations to public safety threats, convicted criminals and recent border crossers. This effectively made anyone without the proper papers vulnerable.

The shift is reflected in ICE statistics on deportations, including of those who have settled in the United States, or “internal removals,” and those who recently crossed the border.

Internal removals increased from 65,332, or 27 percent of the total number of deportations, to 81,603, or 36 percent of the total, in a year. Within this category, deportations of those without a criminal record nearly tripled, from 5,104 to 13,744.

Othman, a descendant of Palestinian refugees from Jerusalem who fled to Jordan in the 1948 war over Israel’s creation, said he arrived in California in 1979.

He briefly attended college, married a U.S. citizen in 1980, received a green card and divorced in 1982, he said. He moved to Youngstown, where he married Fidaa in 1988. The couple moved to Brazil for three years for business.

Upon his return to the U.S., he was told he had to apply for a new green card, but was ultimately turned down. In the meantime, he opened businesses in the Youngstown area.

In 2011, he opened the Downtown Circle, a convenience store and deli. Later, he added a bar and hookah bar, and bought another building in the area.

“Amer was the first private sector business guy to really put the flag in the ground in downtown,” encouraging others, said Ryan.

Othman’s legal troubles erupted anew in August when ICE told him he had 30 days to leave the country. His lawyer obtained an extension, and Othman walked out of the ICE office with a Jan. 7 departure deadline and an ankle bracelet to monitor his movements, he said.

Othman said he bought a plane ticket to Amman for Jan. 7, sold his home and taught his family how to run the businesses.

In early January, he held a news conference detailing the looming deadline. Amid widespread publicity, ICE told him later that day that the deadline was off and that he should instead report to ICE two weeks later. Elated, Othman thought he had won a reprieve.

On Jan. 16, he reported to the ICE office. To his shock, he was arrested and handcuffed. Feeling betrayed, he started a hunger strike.

Leopold said his client was locked up “like an animal for the sole purpose of publicly humiliating him before deportation.”

In late January, Othman was driven to Cleveland airport for a flight to Chicago.

As his Amman-bound plane took off from Chicago, Othman looked at the city below, overwhelmed by mixed emotions.

“It was very sad for me to leave and just to know I have left my family behind me, my wife, my daughters, my businesses, my friends, my Youngstown,” said Othman, who has since rented a furnished apartment in Amman and has been joined by his wife, who plans to travel back and forth.

“I thought I would never be back, even though in my mind, I’m going to fight as much as possible,” he said.


Associated Press writers Dan Sewell in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Elliot Spagat in San Diego, California, contributed to this report.

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Gender gap: Ageing societies give more advantages to men than women, researchers say | World News



Men have more advantages than women in ageing populations, an international study has found.

Researchers say the gender differences in societal ageing suggest men have better resources to cope with the challenges of getting older.

Different gender roles within society not only shape women’s and men’s life opportunities but also their experience of ageing, the research suggests.

Worldwide, the number of people aged 65 years and older is expected to more than double in the next 30 years, rising from 703 million in 2019 to 1.5 billion in 2050.

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Age UK on difficulties facing elderly after lockdown

The study, by researchers from the National University of Singapore and Columbia University in America, found men are especially advantaged when it comes to income and wealth.

They are more likely to be financially secure, have paid work and spend fewer years in ill-health than women in later life.

The first of its kind, the research investigated gender differences in the experience of people growing older in 18 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which includes the likes of the UK and the US.

Women across the countries analysed were shown to have a three year longer average life expectancy than men, but spend more years in poor health.

They are also more likely to live alone at the end of their lives and earn less than men.

A disproportionately greater risk of disability and ill-health in women increased their likelihood of needing long-term care, the study found, as well.

Researchers used the latest data from the OECD and World Bank between 2015 and 2019 for 18 of the 35 OECD countries with sufficient data to develop a gender-specific ageing index.

The new index accounts for five categories that capture social and economic factors affecting the quality of ageing: wellbeing, productivity and engagement, equity, cohesion and security.

Using the system, researchers calculated the overall index and individual category scores that range from 0 to 100 for men and women.

A higher score suggests a successfully ageing society.

Key differences between men and women in ageing societies according to the study:

  • Men have better resources to cope with the challenges of ageing
  • Women have a three year longer average life expectancy than men
  • Men are especially advantaged when it comes to income and wealth
  • Women spend more years in poor health
  • Men are more likely to be financially secure
  • Women have a greater risk of disability and ill-health, which increases their likelihood of needing long-term care
  • Men are more likely to be engaged in paid work
  • Women are more likely to live alone at the end of their lives
  • Women earn less than men

Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands and Japan did well for both genders with an overall index score of 66 or above for men and 55 or above for women.

Countries in much of eastern and southern Europe were at the bottom of the rankings.

The UK achieved an overall index score of 57 for men and 47 for women. It also had the largest difference in wellbeing scores between the two genders, with a score of 74 assigned for men and 61 for women.

America’s overall performance score was 55 for men and 47 for women.

Both the US and the UK performed poorly in the study, indicating growing inequality in the distribution of income and wealth.

Lead author Dr Cynthia Chen, from the National University of Singapore, said: “Ageing societies reinforce the prevailing gender norms in which men continue to be allocated the majority of opportunities, resources, and social support.

“With the world’s population ageing at an unprecedented rate, and the ratio of older women to older men expected to increase, there is an urgent need to challenge the structural and policy biases that favour men.”

The authors have suggested four measures to help address gender bias and inequality in societal ageing including assessing minimum income requirements for healthy living in older people and minimum pensions.

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The mystery of the whisky bottle, the US secretary of state and the department searching for answers | US News



The US State Department is investigating the apparent disappearance of a bottle of whisky worth nearly $6,000 (£4,320).

The Japanese government gave the bottle to Mr Pompeo in June 2019 when the then-secretary of state visited the country.

The department reported the investigation in its annual accounting of gifts given to senior US officials by foreign governments and leaders.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, sits down for a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, in Osaka, Japan, Friday, June 28, 2019, during the G-20 summit. At right is the secretary's senior adviser Michael McKinley. Jacquelyn Martin/Pool via REUTERS
Mike Pompeo visited Japan as secretary of state in June 2019 and it is believed he was given the bottle then

It noted that it could find no trace of the bottle’s whereabouts and that there was an “ongoing inquiry” seeking an explanation.

A spokesman for Mr Pompeo said he was unaware of the gift and the inquiry into its whereabouts.

It is thought the bottle of whisky was given to Mr Pompeo while he was attending a G20 summit in Japan, along with then-president Donald Trump.

But the state department’s Office of Protocol, which records gifts given to US officials, said that, while every other gift had been recorded, there was no record of the whisky.

If a gift is over a certain value, the recipient can give it to the National Archives or another government entity, or they can keep the gift and reimburse the Treasury Department.

Among the items given to Mr Pompeo during his time as secretary of state were two carpets worth a total of $19,400 (£14,000) from the president of Kazakhstan and the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates.

Mr Trump and his wife Melania received more than $120,000 (£86,400) worth of presents from foreign leaders in 2019, including an Ottoman Empire rifle worth $8,500 (£6,120) from the Bulgarian prime minister, a bronze sculpture of an Arabian horse from the crown prince of Bahrain worth $7,200 (£5,100), and a statue of an Arabian oryx worth $6,300 (£4,500) from the emir of Qatar.

The Office of Protocol said all of these were given to the National Archives.

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Greece wildfires: Families reflect on devastation as homes are destroyed – ‘if my mother saw this she would cry’ | World News



I spot George Kyriakopolous sitting in his car, the door open to blackened surroundings and smouldering earth.

To his left is his house. To the right, the one owned by his 95-year-old mother and 98-year-old father. His parents’ property is burned beyond repair. His own house is badly damaged.

George is a man in shock. He cannot believe what he is seeing. Twenty four hours earlier he was watching a wildfire at what seemed like a distance. In 10 minutes, he says, the fire was upon them in the village of Varympompi, north of Athens.

George Kyriakopolous lost his home, his parents home and his dog in the fire.
George Kyriakopolous lost his home, his parents’ home and his dog in the fire

He tells me they had to drive through the flames to get out. He is one of the few residents here who have made it back to check on their properties.

George tells me: “If my mother saw this she would cry. She would cry.”

And I think any of us would. Homes that have been lived in and cherished for years were destroyed in minutes. Land cultivated through hard work, now scorched.

The burned-out homes of residents
The burned-out homes left behind

And this scene is repeated in street after street in this village where hundreds were forced to leave as one of the biggest wildfires in Greece this week penetrated Varympompi. Most who live here have not been allowed to return.

Residents have lost their homes and cars in the fires
People have lost their homes and cars in the fires

The area is still regarded as extremely dangerous and most residents can only watch the skies from where planes and helicopters dump vast containers of water on the area and hope things will be okay.

Sadly for many of them that will not be the case. Coming back here will be traumatising. It certainly has been for Rula Mantis who shows us around the charred remains of the fruit vegetable store she runs with her boyfriend. So much of it is destroyed and she wonders how they will ever recover.

Rula Mantis's boyfriend owns the grocers in the village that has been ruined by the fires
Rula Mantis’s boyfriend owns the grocers in the village that has been ruined by the fires

She’s angry the property was allowed to burn but understands fire crews faced impossible pressure.

She tells me: “It’s very hard. It’s a lot of money you have to spend to make this from the beginning. You can’t save anything. As you can see, there’s nothing left.”

The massive flames which lit up the night sky here when the fire reached its peak may have quelled now but the danger for this village isn’t over. Everywhere we drive or walk in Varympompi the ground is smouldering.

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High temperatures have caused the wildfires in Greece – with people being forced to evacuate their homes

Smoke threatens to ignite into fresh flames which on scorched earth could spread again. It is why residents are taking their fire extinguishers and buckets to douse where they can.

But they know they are up against challenging elements. Temperatures are predicted to remain high in Greece in the days to come when all villagers hope for is rain.

They also know they face the pain of seeing neighbours and friends return to a village where there will be so much pain to confront.

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