Ballroom dancers have an American dream too.
They come through customs hoping to propel their careers by training with some of the world’s top coaches.
But often these dreamers are gone again within six months, unable to pay the application fees for an O-1B work visa or meet its high burden of proof.
2014 has been quite the year. We’d like to know what you think are some of the top Seattle Globalist moments from 2014. What Globalist stories or issues struck you as notable this year?
Let us know via Facebook, Twitter, here in the comments below or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org what we should include in our news roundup. It would be great to include a little description about why the stories you picked are noteworthy, and we might quote you in the article. We’ll publish the list at the end of the month.
— Ninette Cheng (@ninettecheng) December 18, 2014
“The Interview,” a comedy about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has been canceled by Sony Pictures on Wednesday following threats made to theaters that had been scheduled to show the film.
The comedy, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, had been slated for Christmas release. Major theater chains canceled the showings after a group called the “Guardians of Peace” threatened an attack on movie theaters, invoking the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to Variety.
The threats followed a widespread hack of Sony Pictures in November, which resulted in the release of emails that embarrassed Sony executives.
According to NPR’s The Two Way blog, U.S. investigators believe that the origin of the hack and the threats can be traced to North Korea.
Seattle Twitter users responded to the furor around the movie over the past few days:
— Ninette Cheng (@ninettecheng) December 18, 2014
— Benjamin Lukoff (@lukobe) December 18, 2014
I didn't even want to see The Interview before. Now I HAVE to see it, because Murica! #freedom
— Cris Rodriguez (@ElCrisRod) December 17, 2014
if not for the embarrassing leaked data, after reading that i'd be assuming this whole sony thing was a hoax to promote the interview
— Anthony Schmidt (@manicpop) December 16, 2014
Face it, people. The hackers won. #TheInterview will never see the light of day. Everyone, please move on with your lives. Thank you.
— Joseph Hammerschmidt (@JoetheHammer) December 18, 2014
— Tim Clifford (@42_clifford) December 17, 2014
Ray Corona works as a student recruiter at University of Washington (UW) Bothell, a job he knows he couldn’t have gotten if not for a policy change the Obama administration initiated two years ago granting work permits and a reprieve from deportation for hundreds of thousands of young, undocumented immigrants.
But Corona, 23, who is hoping for a career in the corporate sector, worries the limitations of his deferred action status puts him at a competitive disadvantage.
“These work permits have an expiration date to them,” said Corona, who also heads the Washington Dream Act Coalition. “It’s an obvious and clear thing for an employer who may start questioning the longevity of someone they are about to make an major investment in.”
These same concerns are likely to confront some of the nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants eligible for work authorization and other benefits through an expansion of the deferred action program the president announced last month.
Under that plan, immigrant parents of U.S citizens and green card holders — about 70,000 people across Washington state — would be granted a renewable, three-year work permit and a social security number as well as protection from deportation.
The United States and Cuba will seek to re-establish diplomatic relations, according to a statement released by the White House Wednesday morning. President Barack Obama also delivered an address Wednesday morning on the announcement.
“Neither the American nor Cuban people are well-served by a rigid policy that’s rooted in events that took place before most of us were born,” he said during this morning’s address.
According to a a statement from the White House:
“It is clear that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba. At times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba.”
“We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse. We know from hard-learned experience that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose policies that will render a country a failed state.”
(Read the full statement on whitehouse.gov.)
Cuba President Raul Castro addressed his country at the same time as Obama’s address, and Castro called for the U.S. embargo of Cuba to be lifted, according to NBC News.
The announced plans include some easing of travel, but tourist travel will not be eased, according to a story by the Associated Press.
Key to the changes are:
AP also reported that the change in policy was announced as Cuba released a spy who provided intelligence to the United States and an American prisoner Alan Gross, who was convicted in Cuba five years ago after installing censorship-free Internet access. The U.S. also released three convicted spies for Cuba, who were convicted in Miami in 2001.
Pope Francis reportedly encouraged the warming of relations between the two countries and the Vatican released a statement following the announcement.
“The Holy Father wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the Governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relations, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their recent history,” the Vatican’s statement read in part.
Several Congressional critics of Cuba who are also members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee criticized Obama’s move, according to The Huffington Post.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) criticized the exchange of convicted spies for Gross.
“There is no equivalence between an international aid worker and convicted
Two young Seattle entrepreneurs are raising funds to open 'the Meowtropolitan' — Seattle's first cat cafe.
Are you an immigrant with a degree from abroad who can’t find a position in the field you studied? Then the nonprofit World Education Services is looking for your input on a study on “underutilized” college-educated immigrant workers.
The group is conducting a Knight Foundation-funded study on college-educated immigrant workers, and seeks respondents from the Seattle area.
World Education Services is conducting the survey as part of a study to track the experiences of underutilized, skilled immigrants in six cities to discover ways to better integrate and leverage the talents of workers who were educated abroad. The study, which is funded with a $70,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, also includes Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia and San Jose, California, and Boston, as well as Seattle.
Seattle and the other cities were selected because they have large pools of college-educated immigrants.
According to World Education Services, the goal of the survey is to document the factors that help immigrant professionals to succeed, and the barriers that can hold them back. The Institute for Immigration Research at George Mason University will serve as lead research partner, according to the group.
“Gathering this information will help ensure that cities can draw on the full talents of their foreign-born residents,” said Paul Feltman, director of the Global Talent Bridge initiative at World Education Services, in a prepared statement. “While many of these individuals hold jobs as doctors or engineers, others have struggled to transfer their international credentials and obtain professional employment in the United States; this study will help us to understand why.”
According to World Education Services, approximately 3.7 million immigrants to the United States have degrees from abroad, but 26 percent of these skilled workers are unemployed or working in low-wage jobs.
Results will be publicly announced in March 2015.
Ksenia Anske seems to have a respectable mantra for everything.
On keeping up with the dying book industry: “Just give it out for free.”
On accepting praise: “Take the f*cking donut.”
On children’s books: “Adults should read them, too!”
On the digital age: “What’s everyone so stressed out about?”
Most importantly, when life hands you lemons, write fantasy novels.
As a food enthusiast, watching cooking competition shows is a bit of an addiction of mine. From “Hell’s Kitchen” to “Top Chef” or “Chopped,” I’m instantly hooked.
So, when I had the opportunity to attend a live local cooking competition, I was more than stoked.
Extreme poverty is an unavoidable reality in India. The first time I traveled in the country — as an inexperienced and idealistic 20-year-old backpacker — I was shocked by the families living on the street, the children begging for food, the old women breaking rocks on the side of the road.
I wondered what could be done to help these people — the poorest of the poor. Some travelers gave them money, others didn’t. One (loosely) quoted the Bible by saying “Sarah, the poor are always with us.”
Everyone seemed convinced that extreme poverty was an intractable problem beyond straightforward solutions.
But Sachi Shenoy disagrees. She says these “ultrapoor” just need jobs.
“In India we estimate that there are almost 400 million people living under the extreme poverty line. … One of the root causes (is) unemployment and underemployment” explains Shenoy, executive director and a co-founder of Seattle-based nonprofit Upaya Social Ventures.
Upaya — which recently received a grant from The Seattle International Foundation, the foundation that funds this column — hopes to address that unemployment by investing in business ventures that have the potential to expand and employ those who otherwise have few, or no employment opportunities.
Shenoy says she was inspired to start Upaya while working for a microfinance organization in Delhi, India. Microfinance is a development approach that lends money to poor people, usually for small-business ventures. She says the microfinance approach tends to focus on the “midlevel poor” — people who made $2 to $4 a day — rather than the “ultra poor” — those who make less than $1.25 a day.
“There was a cutoff for being too affluent and then there were people we would do surveys on and say, ‘These people are too poor; they’re too much of a credit risk,’ ” says Shenoy, describing the selection process for microfinance applicants with organization she formerly worked with. “That’s when my interest got piqued. … If we’re really trying to alleviate poverty, what do we do about the extreme poor?”
Her answer was Upaya, which focuses on entrepreneurs who have ideas with big business, and thus, big employment potential. They offer investments, not loans, with the hope of creating jobs for those often left behind by microfinance.
“You can think of us as the angel funders for small businesses in India,” says Shenoy, explaining that Upaya makes a point of working with entrepreneurs who may have trouble attracting traditional investors or securing bank loans.
The investments, usually between $10,000 and $75,00, go to businesses from areas that have a large concentrations of “ultra poor.”
The goal is to help grow promising businesses with capital as well as mentorship. In exchange, business owners promise to hire the poorest people in their region as jobs are created.
In the past three years, Upaya has invested in six businesses, ranging from a dairy collective to a company that makes “luxury paper” out of rhino and elephant dung, and an operation that turns fallen palm leaves into biodegradable plates. All told Upaya ventures now employ more than 1,100 people in jobs that pay, on average, between $2.25 and $4 a day.
It’s still a tiny paycheck for a tiny percentage of the millions living in desperate poverty. But it’s enough to move those few from that dangerous ultra poor category to the more stable midlevel-poor group. At this level,