July 2009

President Obama’s speech to the Ghanaian Parliament in Accra on Saturday was streamed on the computer-simulated, 3D avatar-driven environments of Second Life and Metaplace, CBS.com reports. While no Obama avatar was created, the live speech was instead streamed on the sites, accompanied by real-time virtual discussion opportunities featuring Ambassador Kenton Keith, vice president at the Meridian International Center; musician and activist D.N.A.; and African historian Professor Tim Burke. The guest speakers talked about the speech and its broader implications.

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CNN ran an online story, as well as aired a video report, yesterday on the alleged neglect of high school exchange students in Scranton, PA. Both the print and video stories are available on CNN’s website.

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The Associated Press circulated a story this morning on the alleged neglect of high school exchange students in Scranton, PA.

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The United States has entered a new era of global engagement, one in which “old formulas don’t apply” and interests will only be advanced through partnership and consensus, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an address yesterday at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC:

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Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Judith McHale held a press briefing at the White House yesterday to discuss outreach surrounding President Obama’s recent speech in Accra, Ghana. Led by the Department of State and the White House Office of New Media, U.S. embassy posts throughout Africa engaged citizens across the continent in what McHale called a “model of creative public diplomacy for the 21st century.”

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Approximately 20,000 H-1B visas are still available for FY 2010, InformationWeek.com reports:

Since the U.S. began accepting fiscal 2010 visa petitions on April 1, the U.S. has hit about two-thirds of the annual cap on general H-1B visas. At last count, as of July 10, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had received 44,900 H-1B visa petitions toward the congressionally mandated annual cap of 65,000.

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Addressing the question of how the United States and India can strengthen its relationship, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed that diplomacy between the two nations must go beyond government-to-government contact: “In today’s world, we need not only the professional diplomats who serve in our foreign services and represent our country to one another. We need the citizen diplomats who realize that there is no escape. We are in this together.”

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Nearly 40% of overseas students who apply for a study visa to the United Kingdom are being turned away, the Guardian reports today. This escalation in visa delays and rejections has come as a result of a new points-based immigration system introduced in April, the article says.

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Writing on the immigration law website ILW.com, Melanie Hamner traces the growth of the J-1 visa and Exchange Visitor Program as tools of diplomacy and has an optimistic outlook for the future:

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The Alliance signed on to a letter sent by NAFSA today to President Obama asking that he lift academic travel restrictions to Cuba as he works to renew relations with the country. The letter is available on NAFSA’s website.

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