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Front Page: Gaza Progress, Zimbabwe Run-Off, H-1B Visas

  • Israel's defense minister has just said he would consider reopening Gaza's border if violence from the territory stops. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on a visit this week pressed Barak to consider easing Israel's blockade of Gaza. The blockade has caused huge economic hardship in the territory of 1.4 million Palestinians. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist group and closed Gaza's crossings after the group took control of Gaza, only letting in limited humanitarian supplies since. Barak said, "when conditions have matured in the future for an end to the rockets, the terror and the reduction of the weapons' smuggling, we will be willing to consider easements in the Gaza crossings through cooperation with representatives of (Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam) Fayyad's government."

  • In Zimbabwe's presidential race, delays are causing increasing speculation that a runoff may be needed between President Robert Mugabe and his rival Morgan Tsvangirai. The delay is frustrating voters as they can see the results of local voting posted at polling stations throughout the country. Independent estimates of the results show Tsvangirai winning with 49 percent to Mugabe's 42 percent. About two-thirds of Zimbabwe's election results have been declared, with the parliamentary seats for the ruling party and opposition very close.
  • The annual lottery for visas for highly skilled temporary foreign workers begins today. Applications for the H-1B visas are in hot demand. Last year, the agency received enough petitions to cover the annual quota on the first day, and the number of visas offered is controversial. High-tech companies have urged Congress to raise the number offered as they face a shortage of highly skilled tech workers, but official figures show the biggest users of the visas are three Indian high-tech companies, who may be sending workers here to learn competitive information. There are currently 65,000 visas given each year.
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