Eastern Iowa Latinx leaders travel to D.C. for immigration reform rally | News

WASHINGTON D.C. (KWWL) – Representatives from various immigrant rights and Latinx groups in Eastern Iowa were in D.C. Wednesday for an immigration reform rally.

There were representatives from the Johnson County Excluded Workers Coalition, Escucha Mi Voz, which represents workers in Louisa County, and also the Iowa City Catholic Worker House. Ninoska Campos, who was a figurehead for the movement to compensate excluded workers in Iowa City, was in attendance.

The representatives met with Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and asked him to support a comprehensive immigration reform policy that would create a clearer path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

There was a larger event outside the Capitol put on by the National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry.

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San Diego leaders travel to Washington D.C. to lobby for infrastructure funding

A delegation of over 170 local and regional San Diego elected officials, business and nonprofit leaders went to Washington D.C. this week to lobby for infrastructure dollars. This is the 14th year the region has sent a delegation. The annual trip is organized by San Diego’s Regional Chamber of Commerce.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said in a news conference on Monday morning they have dozens of meetings scheduled with federal leaders to make the case for the urgent needs of the region. He and several other delegation members already met with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

“[The meeting] was really about not just shovel ready, but shovel worthy and kind of a notion we want to plan for projects that are going to have transformational change,” said Gloria.

Catherine Blakespear, the mayor of Encinitas, who is also chair of the SANDAG Board, said funding a third port of entry in Otay Mesa is a top priority for the delegation.

RELATED: US labor shortage feeds Tijuana’s nascent tech industry

“California and Baja California are home to the busiest land ports of entry in the western hemisphere,” said Blakespear. “Border wait times have a significant impacts on our region, causing challenges for our economy and our air quality — and also quality of life — for everybody who lives in the area.”

Gloria said homelessness and affordable housing is also at the top of the list, saying, “Let me be extremely clear: In a nation, state and city as wealthy as San Diego, California in the United States we shouldn’t have any homeless people.”

Gloria said securing funding for new housing projects and housing assistance will not just help shelter the more than 8,000 San Diegans who are on the streets now but also help the more than a million people who are rent insecure, and families live their American dreams in San Diego.

“We want people who are hard working and contributing to our economy to see a future for themselves in San Diego. That is economic prosperity, that is success,” he said. “And that’s why we’re working so hard to bring the both the infrastructure and housing dollars back to San Diego.”

Gloria said members of the Congressional delegation have secured over $107 million in the latest budget to fund community projects.

The delegation is scheduled to be there through Wednesday.

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LMPD leaders travel to Atlanta in attempt to stem officer shortage | News

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Louisville Metro Police leaders headed to a different state this week to find more officers.

The department recruited in Atlanta on Thursday, where Chief Erika Shields served before coming to Louisville. The former Atlanta police chief, Shields was sworn in for the same position in Louisville in January 2021, seven months after resigning in the wake of the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks, a Black man whom police shot and killed during a struggle in a Wendy’s parking lot.

Louisville police put up a recruiting billboard in Atlanta a couple weeks ago with Shields’ picture that read “Join us in Louisville, Laterals Welcome.” The lateral class begins May 30, while a new police officer class starts June 20. Additional classes are planned for the fall.

On Thursday, the department’s recruitment team was there in person to host a meet and greet for applicants. 

LMPD is down hundreds of officers right now, and department leaders said Thursday’s event is part of a larger effort to get candidates from other states.

“It’s more difficult right now, but we’re coming up with creative solutions on how we can find good qualified applicants,” said Sgt. Justin Bickett, recruitment and selection supervisor for LMPD. “As far as going to Atlanta and surrounding cities, our intent is to travel to different regions. We’re in Atlanta this month, but in June, we plan to be in a different city and continue to carry on.” 

LMPD said it already has a number of applicants from Atlanta. To apply for jobs with LMPD, click here.

Copyright 2022 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.

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Poland, EU leaders going to Kyiv, meet Zelenskyy


Leaders of Poland, Czech Republic and Slovenia are traveling to Kyiv on a European Union mission Tuesday to show support for Ukraine.

“Europe must guarantee Ukraine’s independence and ensure that it is ready to help in Ukraine’s reconstruction,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a tweet Tuesday announcing the trip.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Russian troops in an online video early Tuesday that they can surrender and will be treated “decently” and pleaded with European nations to provide his military with more weapons.

“On behalf of the Ukrainian people, I give you a chance,” Zelenskyy said in a video translated into English by his office, ahead of his scheduled speech to Canada’s parliament on Tuesday. “Chance to survive. If you surrender to our forces, we will treat you the way people are supposed to be treated. As people, decently.”

Zelenskyy also told northern European leaders that they could “help yourself by helping us.” Zelenskyy, speaking to leaders of the Joint Expeditionary Force via videolink, said the Ukrainian military is rapidly using up weapons and other hardware obtained from the West.

Talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations were expected to resume via teleconference Tuesday, the president said. Talks were halted Monday for a “technical pause,” according to one of Zelenskyy’s advisers. Three previous rounds of talks held in Belarus provided little progress, but both sides expressed optimism ahead of this week’s negotiations.

THE NEWS COMES TO YOU:  Get updates on the situation in Ukraine. Sign up here. 

LATEST MOVEMENT: Mapping and tracking Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

FULL COVERAGE: Latest updates, analysis, commentary on Ukraine 

Latest developments:

►A humanitarian disaster is unfolding in Izium, an eastern city of 46,000 people, Deputy Mayor Volodymyr Matsokin said. The city lacks basic supplies, and extensive Russian shelling has severely damaged infrastructure, he said.

►Mariupol City Council says 2,000 civilian vehicles have left the besieged city through a so-called humanitarian corridor. Another 2,000 cars were waiting to exit along the evacuation route.

►The British government says it will raise import duties on vodka and other Russian products and ban the export of luxury goods to Russia.

►Multiple demonstrations by Ukrainians against Russian occupation have occurred over the last several days in the cities of Kherson, Melitopol and Berdyansk, according to the British Defense Ministry.

► More than 2.9 million Ukrainians have fled the country, the U.N. refugee agency said. Over 1.7 million of them exited through Poland.

A news anchor was speaking on Russian state TV when a woman appeared on camera behind her holding a sign with “no war” scrawled in English and a message warning people not to believe Russian propaganda.

An independent human rights group identified the woman as Marina Ovsyannikova. The group, OVD-Info, posted on its website that Ovsyannikova, who identified herself as an employee of the station, was taken into police custody.

Speaking in a video address early Tuesday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Russians “who do not stop trying to convey the truth, real facts … And personally to the woman who entered the studio of Channel One with a poster against the war.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was traveling to Brussels on Tuesday for a meeting of NATO’s defense ministers that will focus on bolstering the alliance’s eastern front following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Austin then is scheduled to visit senior civilian and military leaders in Slovakia and Bulgaria, according to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.

The NATO meeting comes after the Russia’s cruise-missile attack Sunday on the Yavoriv military training base in western Ukraine. The attack killed at least 35 people and occurred not far from the border with Poland, a NATO ally. President Joe Biden and other senior officials have pledged to respond to any Russian attack that spills into NATO’s territory.

Tom Vanden Brook

Preliminary losses from Russia’s military actions in Ukraine are already estimated at $500 billion – and the damage grows worse every day, Minister of Finance Serhiy Marchenko said Tuesday. Supply chains have been broken, some businesses destroyed and others left unable to function because their workers have fled, Marchenko said. The true cost of the war won’t be determined until it’s over, he said. The International Monetary Fund, which has approved $1.4 billion in emergency financing for Ukraine, said this week that the country’s economic output could shrink by up to 35% if the war drags on.

Marchenko said some of the hundreds of billions in Russian assets frozen in the U.S. and Europe could be tapped to help his country rebuild.

Fox News journalist Benjamin Hall was injured in Ukraine on Monday while reporting on the Russian invasion, the network said. Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott said in a statement that the network had “minimal level of details right now” but that Hall had been hospitalized. Hall, a father of three, has been reporting from Kyiv, Scott said.

“We will update everyone as we know more,” Scott said. “Please keep Ben and his family in your prayers.”

On Sunday, American photojournalist Brent Renaud was killed and another journalist was wounded in Irpin, a suburb of Kyiv.


Zelenskyy calls Russian attack on US journalists ‘deliberate’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the attack that killed American journalist Brent Renaud and injured his colleague a “deliberate attack.”

Associated Press, USA TODAY

China’s stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “impartial and constructive” while the U.S. has been “immoral and irresponsible” by spreading misinformation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Tuesday.

Lijan accused the U.S. of spreading misinformation over reports Beijing had agreed to a Russian request for military supplies. Lijan also said the U.S. played a major role in the development of the crisis, a reference to NATO expansion.

Lijan spoke at a press briefing on day after Yang Jiechi, one of China’s top diplomats, met with U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Yang called on the international community to support peace talks and that “China always stands for respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.”

State Department spokesman Ned Price declined to confirm whether U.S. officials believe Beijing has conveyed its support for Moscow’s assault on Ukraine but said the U.S. is watching very closely whether China or any other country is providing any form of support including material, economic or financial assistance.

The White House is considering for President Joe Biden to travel to Europe in support of Ukraine and allies in the coming weeks, according to multiple media reports. The discussions have included considering Biden stopping in Brussels, home to NATO and the European Union, according to the reports from NBC News, Politico and Reuters. In addition, there are talks of Biden visiting Poland after a stop in Brussels, Reuters said.

Any potential trip would come after Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Poland and Romania last week. The aim of her trip was to show unity among NATO allies amid Russia’s war in Ukraine. 

Biden has traveled abroad twice during his administration, both times in Europe. White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday would not confirm the president’s potential travel plans or preview what the trip may entail.

“There’s not been any final decision about a trip,” Psaki said. “So I don’t have anything to preview about what that would look like if you were to take a trip.”

– Rebecca Morin 

KRAKOW, Poland — After a deadly Russian missile attack in Ukraine just 15 miles from the Polish border Sunday, some Poles are increasingly anxious – saving money, checking to see whether their passports are up to date and making plans to flee if war spills over to their country.

“I said to my husband, ‘If only one bomb touches Polish ground, I will pack myself, pack my grandma, pack my mom, and we are going abroad,’” local artist Aga Gaj said.

Poles are nervous following a Russian airstrike that killed 35 and injured at least 100 at a military base where Americans had trained Ukrainian forces before the war. The United States and NATO have regularly sent instructors to the base, known as the International Peacekeeping and Security Center. Just weeks before the war began, Florida National Guard members trained there. Read more here.

– Katelyn Ferral, USA TODAY Network

Contributing: The Associated Press

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US Travel Announces 22 Emerging Travel Leaders

The U.S. Travel Association has launched a new Emerging Travel Leaders program and announced its first class of 22 leaders.

The program was created to expand the exposure, knowledge and capabilities of rising travel leaders as they build careers in the travel and tourism field. It advances an objective that was included in the National Chair’s Platform, led by U.S. Travel Association National Chair and Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy, to spur the development of a diverse, equitable and inclusive industry to lead travel into the future.


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“One of the key facets of U.S. Travel’s long-term vision is to strengthen our workforce by identifying areas for career advancement and upward mobility,” said Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO. “By launching a program that intentionally provides access to highly skilled professionals and premier events, we are forging the next generation of leaders who will shape a dynamic and diverse future for travel.”

The 2022 Emerging Travel Leaders class is:

Amanda Baker, Visit North Carolina

Katherine Barnes, IDEMIA

Travis Binkley, Visit Orlando

Christian Cadle, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board

Susana Carraza, Disneyland

Megan Conway, Travel Portland

Amelia Deluca, Delta Air Lines

Lorne Edwards, Visit Phoenix

Maria Fabregat, Disney Signature Experiences

Jennifer Haber, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

Petra Hackworth, Travel Oregon

Drew Hays, Visit Austin

Christina Heggie, Google

Connie Kinnard, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau

Mia Landrin, Carnival Cruise Line

Robin McClain, Destination DC

Jacob Pewitt Yancey, VISIT FLORIDA

Dawson Pritchett, Visit Lauderdale

Alix Skelpsa Ridgway, Arizona Office of Tourism

Taylor Stanley, Visit Lake Charles

Keith Stiff, Universal Orlando Resort

Armine Terzyan, Associated Luxury Hotels International

The class of leaders will participate in a year-long program of immersive experiences at U.S. Travel events, including at spring and fall board meetings, Destination Capitol Hill, and at a fall advocacy conference where they will connect with industry leaders and gain an understanding of U.S. Travel’s mission, values and culture. The program also provides U.S. Travel board members an opportunity to engage with developing and diverse talents.

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Travel Leaders Urging White House To End Testing Requirement To Enter U.S.

Several major players in the travel industry are calling for the U.S. to eliminate testing requirements for incoming, vaccinated travelers. Groups like Airlines for America, the U.S. Travel Association, and the American Society of Travel Advisors have all pushed back on the restrictions, citing both the economy and decreases in travel.

On February 1, Zane Kerby, president and CEO of the ASTA, wrote a letter (PDF) addressing Jeffrey Zients, the White House’s COVID-19 recovery team coordinator. Urging Zients to modify CDC guidelines regarding entrance into the U.S., Kerby addressed several challenges these restrictions have had on travel. 

“While we understand the rationale behind the inbound testing order, it continues to present a number of practical challenges to our members and their clients,” wrote Kerby. “These challenges range from uncertainty as to the availability of timely testing in-destination to avoid disruption to their return trip to the financial and psychological burdens associated with being prevented from returning home due to a positive (or false positive) test result, to a general chilling effect on international travel bookings.”

Just a day after Kerby’s letter to the White House, several travel and economic organizations formed an industry-wide coalition also addressing Mr. Zients. 

“On behalf of the many sectors of the travel and aviation industries, we urgently request that the Administration remove the requirement for pre-departure testing for vaccinated passengers traveling to the United States,” states the letter (PDF). “Doing so is justified by the pervasiveness of COVID cases in all 50 states, increased immunity, and higher vaccination rates as well as new treatments.”

Included in the coalition are organizations like the U.S. Travel Association, a Washington D.C.-based organization that promotes and protects the freedom of travel, and even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

Furthermore, the coalition called for the White House to consider the actions of other nations, specifically the UK.

“The UK concluded that the cost to both passengers and airlines of the testing mandate could no longer be justified as there was no evidence the regime protected the population from COVID,” says the letter, calling for a reconsideration of U.S. policies and practices. 

While the health and safety of travelers worldwide is the concern of all parties involved, there is a bit of a gray area formed between the ethics of health and safety practices and the success of the travel industry. 

The CDC’s most recent amendment to restrictions for incoming travelers to the U.S. came late last year. “Air travelers aged two and older, regardless of nationality or vaccination status, are required to show documentation of a negative viral test result taken within one day of the flight’s departure to the United States before boarding,” the order reads.

After the spread of the omicron COVID-19 variant to the U.S., the CDC reacted swiftly with its requirements. They also recommended avoiding international travel until fully vaccinated as it poses an increased health risk. 

With international air travel decreasing at 38 percent since 2019, according to Reuters, travel industry leaders are going straight to the source for changes. The White House, however, has not responded.

“Travel’s like water,” Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, told Travel Weekly. “If you put a barrier in place, it will find another direction to go and people won’t travel. If you remove that barrier, it flows and flows very quickly.”

For all of our COVID-19 news, check out our travel news category.

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Holiday travel and 2021 tourism sets new records, local industry leaders say

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The holiday season brought many tourists into the Savannah area, both on the roads and in the sky. Local tourism leaders said 2021 ended as one of the strongest years on record for visitor numbers and spending.

Officials at Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport anticipate the holiday travel wave to be done with now but saw 38,000 travelers in the five days surrounding Christmas. Last year, it was just 17,000 for those same five days, officials said.

This year’s holiday travel was plagued by thousands of flight cancellations and delays nationwide. Airport officials here said they’re averaging anywhere from five to eight cancellations a day.

“What we’re seeing is that they’re equal weather and crew,” said marketing director Lori Lynah. “There are some flights that are going to be canceled just because of weather issues and passengers are being re-routed in both cases.”

For those still traveling in and out of the area, Lynah recommends staying in touch with your airline and providing them with the best contact information so you can be informed as soon as possible if there are changes to your flight.

Lynah said holiday travel was slightly up from 2019 as well, about a 10% increase. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, leaders say the busiest time for tourists was the week after Christmas.

“Once COVID happened and people had pent up demand and COVID fatigue, and then the vaccinations started to increase, they wanted to go to places with sunshine and beaches and outdoors,” said Joe Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah. “Savannah and Tybee Island both offer that.”

The increase in tourists is welcome news for the local hospitality industry, which all took a hit at the height of the pandemic.

“The most important thing is that we have people getting back to work again,” Marinelli said. “A lot of people lost their jobs either temporarily or permanently as a result of the pandemic and we see a lot of those jobs coming back now.”

Marinelli said the holiday season typically brings in strong traffic, but the peak tourist season won’t come until spring and fall. He expects the industry to keep on its upward track through 2022 as business and international travel start to bounce back.

“This will be a growth year for the industry,” Marinelli said. “The good news is we are a leisure travel destination so we’ll continue to be strong there.”

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