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Ken Cuccinelli Named Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director

President Donald Trump asked Cuccinelli, a conservative lawmaker known for his hard-line immigration views

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Ken Cuccinelli, U.S., Citizenship
Former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, center, is seen with lawmakers at the White House in Washington, Nov.14, 2108. VOA

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has officially been named acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

President Donald Trump asked Cuccinelli, a conservative lawmaker known for his hard-line immigration views, to lead the agency that is tasked with administering the nation’s legal immigration system.

Cuccinelli will lead an agency of 19,000 employees and contractors.

According to a USCIS press release, besides administering the nation’s lawful immigration system, USCIS protects Americans, secures the homeland and honors America’s values.

Ken Cuccinelli, U.S., Citizenship
Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has officially been named acting director. Pixabay

“I am honored to be given the opportunity to lead U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at this critical time and serve alongside this agency’s dedicated workforce,” Cuccinelli said in the press release. “I look forward to working with the men and women of USCIS to ensure our legal immigration system operates effectively and efficiently while deterring fraud and protecting the American people.”

The new acting director also said the USCIS has the “extraordinary responsibility” to administer and protect the integrity of the U.S. immigration system, which he described as the “most generous” in the world.

Rumors of a potential position for Cuccinelli came with controversy. Before Monday’s announcement, the Trump administration was reported to be creating a new position aimed at overhauling America’s immigration system amid an accelerating surge of Central American migrants and asylum-seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Some had given the position the nickname immigration czar.

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In fiscal 2018, the agency adjudicated more than 8.7 million requests for immigration benefits. (VOA)

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U.S. Pentagon Emits More Greenhouse Gases Than Portugal, Study Finds

The Pentagon, which oversees the U.S. military, released about 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide

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U.S., Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases
FILE - The Pentagon building is seen in Washington. VOA

The United States creates more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions through its defense operations alone than industrialized countries such as Sweden and Portugal, researchers said Wednesday.

The Pentagon, which oversees the U.S. military, released about 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in 2017, according to the first study to compile such comprehensive data, published by Brown University.

The Pentagon’s emissions were “in any one year … greater than many smaller countries’ greenhouse gas emissions,” the study said.

If it were a country, its emissions would make it the world’s 55th-largest contributor, said Neta Crawford, the study’s author and a political scientist at Boston University.

U.S., Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases
FILE – Air pollution hangs over the skyline as the sun rises over Beijing’s central business district, Jan. 14, 2013. VOA

“There is a lot of room here to reduce emissions,” Crawford said.

Request for comments to the Pentagon went unanswered.

Troop movements

Using and moving troops and weapons accounted for about 70% of its energy consumption, mostly due to the burning of jet and diesel fuel, Crawford said.

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It dwarfed yearly emissions by Sweden, which the international research project Global Carbon Atlas ranks 65th worldwide for its of CO2 emissions.

Pentagon emissions were higher than those of Portugal, ranked 57th by the Global Carbon Atlas, said Crawford.

China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main gas responsible for climate change, followed by the United States.

The Pentagon called climate change “a national security issue” in a January report to Congress and has launched multiple initiatives to prepare for its impact.

U.S., Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases
The United States creates more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Pixabay

Global temperatures are on course for an increase of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius (5.4-9.0 degrees Fahrenheit) this century, far overshooting a global target of limiting the increase to 2 C or less, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization said in November.

Four degrees Celsius of warming would increase more than five times the influence of climate on conflict, according to a study published in Nature magazine on Wednesday.

Improvements

Crawford said the Pentagon had reduced its fuel consumption significantly since 2009, including by making its vehicles more efficient and moving to cleaner sources of energy at bases.

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It could reduce them further by cutting fuel-heavy missions to the Persian Gulf to protect access to oil, which were no longer a top priority as renewable energy gained ground, she said.

“Many missions could actually be rethought, and it would make the world safer,” she said. (VOA)