Uncertainty at border over Title 42 end – National & International News – THU 11May2023


Uncertainty at border over Title 42 end.

Work-from-home trend threatens to burst commercial real estate bubble, create financial havoc.

Pakistan: Deadly violence after popular former Prime Minister arrested.



Uncertainty at border over Title 42 end

The pandemic era restriction Title 42 ends tonight. Starting in 2020, Title 42 allowed the US to immediately expel migrants at the border without allowing them to seek asylum. In the last several weeks, there’s been a great deal of anxiety about what will happen when it ends. Some have predicted a massive influx over the border as soon as the rule expires, but others have said these fears may be overblown.

Border officials claim that some 60,000 migrants are amassing at the border waiting to cross over. In response, Texas has dispatched National Guard troops and the Pentagon has sent about 1500 soldiers to support Customs and Border Protection agents. The Pentagon has said its soldiers are merely there to provide logistical support rather than enforcement.

However, local reports at the border show that migrant apprehensions have been rising for the last few weeks, reaching about 10,000 per day. Some officials believe the spike is already happening and that there won’t be a huge explosion in arrivals today and tomorrow. This is in part because there’s great confusion among the migrants themselves about what awaits them after Title 42 expires. Some migrants believe that new policies enacted by the Biden administration will make it more difficult for them to enter the US after today rather than less.

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Work-from-home trend may burst commercial real estate bubble, create financial havoc

During the pandemic, many office workers began working from home. Once the pandemic passed, employers tried to encourage their workers to come back to the office through a combination of threats and inducements. However, large employers have now bowed to the inevitable and either allowed some employees to work totally from home or to come into the office only 2-3 days a week.

This has left thousands of office spaces in expensive business districts across the country sitting empty. Cities with once-buzzing downtown business districts like San Francisco and New York are looking emptier these days. By one estimate, there’s enough empty office space in New York alone to fill 26 Empire State Buildings.

Many businesses are now considering either not renewing leases on their office space or significantly downsizing their rentals. This will hit  real estate developers who often fund purchases, remodeling or construction of commercial buildings using short-term loans. Analysts have raised concerns this may create a domino effect that could lead to a massive $1.5 trillion default on loans by 2025.

It’s uncertain at this point what can be done to soften the blow of this potential economic timebomb. Some have proposed that cities like New York and San Francisco with a glut of unwanted commercial real estate and a shortage of affordable housing should relax zoning laws and other municipal and state regulations to allow some of this commercial real estate to be more easily converted to residential use. While this would certainly help to ease the housing crunch in these cities, it would only be a partial solution when the loans come due.

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Pakistan: Deadly violence after popular former Prime Minister arrested

On Tuesday, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested on corruption charges. Khan served as Prime Minister from 2018 to April 2022 and maintains a huge popular following. His supporters claim that the charges against him have been manufactured by Khan’s foes in Pakistan’s powerful military and intelligence establishment.

When Khan first came into office in 2018, he was on good terms with the country’s military leadership. This began to unravel in 2021 when Khan tried to appoint one of his loyalists to head Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). In April 2022, his former military allies stood by as Khan lost a confidence vote and was ousted from office.

Then in November 2022, Khan survived an assassination attempt, and his popularity has grown ever since. Pakistan is due to hold elections soon and Khan is the clear favorite. Khan and his supporters claim that the corruption charges against him (which could bar him from office) are another example of the military establishment putting its thumb on the political scales.

Political and economic turmoil

Pakistan has suffered a severe economic downturn in recent years and is on the verge of sovereign default. Khan’s supporters now accuse the military of stifling Pakistan’s development. After his arrest, Khan released a video calling his supporters to protest in the streets. So far, over 1400 have been arrested and at least 8 have been killed.

Pakistan is a nuclear-armed country and has a long-standing military and economic relationship with the US. Khan has accused the US of conspiring with the Pakistani military to take him down or even have him killed.  The US State Department has rejected these accusations as false and has called for elections to be held on time and fairly.

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