- Created on 05 December 2013
Onyango Obama (pictured), the uncle of President Barack Obama, can now remain here as per a federal judge ruling on Tuesday, reports the Boston Globe.
The 69-year-old man, who is the half-brother of the president's late father, Barack Obama Sr., has invoked his famous nephew's name throughout his court proceedings to fight off deportation efforts. Obama says he came to this country in 1963 as a teen from his native Kenya with the help of the president's father. He had a student visa at the time of his arrival which he did renew but allowed to expire in 1970.
The White House declared last year that the president has never met Obama. Yet the sexagenarian insists his famous nephew stayed with him for three weeks while he attended Harvard Law School in the 1980s.
Since the student visa, Obama has reportedly not obtained any other rights under U.S. immigration laws during his time here. He did, however, manage to obtain a valid Kenyan passport that has since been renewed but not much else.
An immigration judge ordered Obama to leave the country voluntarily back in 1989. Obama appealed the order to the Board of Immigration Appeals but lost and was ordered deported in 1992.
He never left the country.
Obama had been working as a liquor manager and living inconspicuously when Framingham, Massachusetts police flagged and arrested him back in August 2011 on a drunk driving charge. It was when Obama was given a year's probation for his crime, that his case and immigration status received national media attention. Many accused the government of giving him special treatment at the same time President Obama is deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants.
Obama, who never married or had any children while in this country is now welcomed here legally after his victorious courtroom win. He can now get a green card and apply for U.S. citizenship in five years unless the Department of Homeland security appeals the case.
Obama was granted legal status because according to the immigration judge, he came to this country before 1972 and had displayed "good moral character." The judge also pointed out that Obama has been an avid community volunteer and is a "kind and decent person."
Other than the drunk driving charge, no other charges have marred Obama's character.
In a similar situation, Obama's sister Zeituni Onyango was granted asylum in 2010 after a federal official leaked her immigration status to the press days before the president's 2008 election.
- Created on 04 December 2013
Photo by Associated Press
An American man who is marking four years in prison in Cuba has written a letter to President Barack Obama asking the president to get personally involved in securing his release.
Alan Gross was arrested four years ago Tuesday while working covertly in the Communist-run country to set up Internet access for the island's small Jewish community, access that bypassed local restrictions. At the time, he was working as a subcontractor for the U.S. government's U.S. Agency for International Development, which works to promote democracy on the island.
Cuba considers USAID's programs illegal attempts by the U.S. to undermine its government, and Gross was ultimately tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison. His case has become a sticking point in improving ties between the two countries, which have not had formal diplomatic relations since 1961.
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- Created on 04 December 2013
AP Photo/DCN Diving
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- Entombed at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in an upended tugboat for three days, Harrison Odjegba Okene begged God for a miracle.
The Nigerian cook survived by breathing an ever-dwindling supply of oxygen in an air pocket. A video of Okene's rescue in May - HTTP://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?VARWGILMKCQE - that was posted on the Internet more than six months later has gone viral this week.
As the temperature dropped to freezing, Okene, dressed only in boxer shorts, recited the last psalm his wife had sent by text message, sometimes called the Prayer for Deliverance: "Oh God, by your name, save me. ... The Lord sustains my life."
To this day, Okene believes his rescue after 72 hours underwater at a depth of 30 meters (about 100 feet) is a sign of divine deliverance. The other 11 seaman aboard the Jascon 4 died.
Divers sent to the scene were looking only for bodies, according to Tony Walker, project manager for the Dutch company DCN Diving, who were called to the scene because they were working on a neighboring oil field 120 kilometers (75 miles) away.
The divers had already pulled up four bodies.
So when a hand appeared on the TV screen Walker was monitoring in the rescue boat, showing what the diver in the Jascon saw, everybody assumed it was another corpse.
"The diver acknowledged that he had seen the hand and then, when he went to grab the hand, the hand grabbed him!" Walker said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
"It was frightening for everybody," he said. "For the guy that was trapped because he didn't know what was happening. It was a shock for the diver while he was down there looking for bodies, and we (in the control room) shot back when the hand grabbed him on the screen."
On the video, there's an exclamation of fear and shock from Okene's rescuer, and then joy as the realization sets in. Okene recalls hearing: "There's a survivor! He's alive."
Walker said Okene couldn't have lasted much longer.
"He was incredibly lucky he was in an air pocket but he would have had a limited time (before) ... he wouldn't be able to breathe anymore."
The full video of the rescue captured by divers was released by DCN Diving after a request from The Associated Press. Initially, a shorter version of the rescue emerged on the Internet. The authenticity of the video was confirmed through conversations with DCN employees in the Netherlands. The video showing Okene was also consistent with additional photos of him on the rescue ship. The AP also contacted Okene on Tuesday who confirmed the events.
Okene's ordeal began around 4:30 a.m. on May 26. Always an early riser, he was in the toilet when the tug, one of three towing an oil tanker in Nigeria's oil-rich Delta waters, gave a sudden lurch and then keeled over.
"I was dazed and everywhere was dark as I was thrown from one end of the small cubicle to another," Okene said in an exclusive interview after his rescue with Nigeria's Nation newspaper.
He groped his way out of the toilet and tried to find a vent, propping doors open as he moved on. He discovered some tools and a life vest with two flashlights, which he stuffed into his shorts.
When he found a cabin of the sunken vessel that felt safe, he began the long wait, getting colder and colder as he played back a mental tape of his life - remembering his mother, friends, mostly the woman he'd married five years before with whom he hadn't yet fathered a child.
He worried about his colleagues - 10 Nigerians and the Ukrainian captain including four young cadets from Nigeria's Maritime Academy. They would have locked themselves into their cabins, standard procedure in an area stalked by pirates.
He got really worried when he heard the sound of fish, shark or barracudas he supposed, eating and fighting over something big.
As the waters rose, he made a rack on top of a platform and piled two mattresses on top.
According to his interview with the Nation: "I started calling on the name of God. ... I started reminiscing on the verses I read before I slept. I read the Bible from Psalm 54 to 92. My wife had sent me the verses to read that night when she called me before I went to bed."
He survived off just one bottle of Coke, all he had to sustain him during the trauma.
Okene really thought he was going to die, he told the Nation, when he heard the sound of a boat engine and anchor dropping, but failed to get the attention of rescuers. He figured, given the size of the boat, that it would take a miracle for a diver to locate him. So he waded across the cabin, stripped the wall down to its steel body, then knocked on it with a hammer.
But "I heard them moving away. They were far away from where I was."
By the time he was saved, relatives already had been told the sailors were dead.
Okene kept faith with the psalm he recited, that promises to "give thanks in your name, Lord," at a service at his Redeemed Christian Church of God.
He was rescued by a diver who first used hot water to warm him up, then attached him to an oxygen mask. Once free of the sunken boat, he was put into a decompression chamber and then safely returned to the surface.
- Created on 03 December 2013
Photo by Associated Press
Uruguay's president wants the world to lend him a hand in his quest to legalize weed.
In an interview with Brazilian daily A Folha de São Paulo published Sunday, José Mujica defended his push to legalize the limited government sale of marijuana, calling on foreign governments to support the project.
"We ask the world to help us create this experience," Mujica told A Folha de São Paulo during an interview at his farm outside Montevideo. "It will allow us to adopt a socio-political experiment to address the serious problem of drug trafficking... the effect of the drug traffic is worse than the drug."
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