Aug 21, 2017

U.S. to temporarily stop issuing tourist visas to Russians

Pavel Golovkin / AP

The U.S. Embassy in Russia announced Monday it will stop issuing nonimmigrant visas to Russians for 8 days from Wednesday. A State Department official told Axios "we are forced to suspend" them as "a result of the Russian government-imposed cap" on U.S. embassy staff in Russia.

The U.S. State Department said this is not retaliation for that cap, per the AP, it is just a reflection of the fact that fewer employees on the ground leads to a reduction in capacity. A quarter of a million Russian tourists visited the U.S. last year, Russian tourism officials reported.

For consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekatinburg, and Vladivostok, the suspension is in place "until further notice," the official said.

The backdrop: In July, Vladimir Putin ordered the U.S. to cut its embassy staff by 755 in response to a fresh round of sanctions passed by Congress over Russia's election meddling.

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Scoop: Census Bureau is paying Chinese state media to reach Americans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign, which sends U.S. taxpayer dollars to community media outlets to run ads about the upcoming census, is including a Chinese state-run broadcaster as one of its media vendors.

Why it matters: After China's yearslong campaign to co-opt independent Chinese-language media in the U.S., Washington is now paying Beijing-linked media outlets in order to reach Chinese Americans.

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Live updates: Coronavirus spreads to Latin America

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Brazil confirmed the first novel coronavirus case in Latin America Wednesday — a 61-year-old that tested positive after returning from a visit to northern Italy, the epicenter of Europe's outbreak.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 81,000 others. By Wednesday morning, South Korea had the most cases outside China, with 1,261 infections. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 374 cases have been confirmed.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

GOP congressman accuses California pension official of working for China

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The latest season of Red Scare has come to Sacramento.

Driving the news: Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) has repeatedly accused Ben Meng, chief investment officer of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), of tacitly working on behalf of the Chinese government. Banks also says that, were it up to him, Meng would be fired — and has questioned the patriotism of California Gov. Gavin Newsom for not at least investigating Meng.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - World