Країни-члени ОБСЄ закликають Росію нести відповідальність за режим припинення вогню на Донбасі.

«Країни-члени закликають Росію до відповідальності за дотримання стійкого перемир’я та виконання мінських домовленостей», – мовиться у повідомленні постійного представництва України при ОБСЄ, опублікованому за результатами екстреного засідання, скликаного через загострення ситуації в Авдіївці Донецької області.

Постійна рада ОБСЄ 31 жовтня провела екстрене засідання. Перед цим голова Спеціальної моніторингової місії ОБСЄ в Україні Ертугул Апакан закликав до негайного припинення боїв у районі Авдіївки – Ясинуватої – Донецького аеропорту на сході України. 

Вранці 29 січня розпочалися запеклі бої неподалік Авдіївки. Сторони конфлікту звинуватили одна одну у спричиненні цих боїв. Українська сторона заявила, що бойовики розпочали обстрілювати і саме місто. Унаслідок обстрілів Авдіївки від неділі, за останніми даними української сторони, загинули 6 військових, десятки поранені.

Сепаратисти, у свою чергу, заявляють, що двоє бойовиків загинули, шестеро отримали поранення сьогодні в результаті обстрілу з боку українських силовиків, одна місцева жителька загинула.


Noting populist and nationalist forces making gains in democratic states last year, Freedom House has declared 2016 the 11th consecutive year of a decline in global freedom.

Of the 195 countries assessed in the Freedom House report, less than half were rated Free.  Forty-nine countries were rated “not free”, and of those, Syria, Eritrea, North Korea, Uzbekistan, South Sudan, Turkmenistan, Somalia, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, and Saudi Arabia had the “worst” aggregate scores for political rights and civil liberties.

The United States was listed as one of the countries rated “free,” but also was said to have faced setbacks in “political rights, civil liberties, or both” in the “Freedom in the World 2017” report released Tuesday.

Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, and Tunisia were also among the countries listed as free, but flagged by the report as facing “counter-democratic” transitions.  In particular, the report said countries in Central Europe, which saw “remarkable” transitions to democracy in the 1980s and 1990s “will be substantially reversed by elected populist leaders”.

Though rated “partly free”, Turkey saw the largest one-year decline in its score, having been victim of multiple terrorist attacks in 2016 as well as mass arrests and detentions following a military coup over the summer.

Turkey’s score, like those of many other democracies, was negatively affected by its involvement in the Syrian conflict during the past year.  The United States and a number of European countries saw what the report called a “weakening of democratic standards” due to the large influx of Syrian refugees.

The report also states the Syrian conflict and other extremism in the Middle East has taken attention away from “worsening domestic repression” in China and Russia.

The only country listed in the report with a positive trend toward being more free was Colombia, whose government made a historic deal with the FARC rebels earlier this year, ending a decades-long conflict in the South American country.


Russians have largely greeted Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the White House with high hopes for a new era of improved relations with the United States. And judging by this week’s reaction, the first telephone call between Presidents Trump and Putin has done nothing to diminish those expectations.

 

In his influential weekly news program Vesti Nedeli, anchor Dmitry Kiselev praised the 45-minute conversation as the “most awaited phone call on Earth.”

 

“Donald Trump is fulfilling his election promises and getting rid of Obama’s pathetic legacy,” Kiselev said during the broadcast.

 

Kremlin officials have been more circumspect, if only slightly.  

 

On Monday, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the conversation as “constructive” with both men showing a desire to resolve “complex issues through dialogue.”

 

Peskov said such cooperation was not possible under the Obama administration, with whom the Kremlin sparred bitterly over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, military support for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, and allegations of interference in the U.S. presidential election, among other issues.

 

Indeed, following the phone call, statements from both the Kremlin and White House stressed a desire to find common ground.

 

Sanctions relief?

 

The Kremlin said the leaders expressed an interest in closer cooperation in fighting Islamic State terrorists, as well as dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iran nuclear deal, and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. There was no indication that the presidents discussed the charges that Russia tried to interfere with the U.S. election.

 

Nor do the two appear to have discussed Western sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine, although the tone of the call fed into speculation that they could soon be eased.  

 

Key European allies – in line with the former Obama administration – have proposed partially lifting the sanctions only if Moscow fulfills its obligations under the Minsk Peace Accords aimed at ending the fighting in east Ukraine between Kyiv government forces and pro-Russian separatists.  

 

President Trump has suggested he could lift sanctions in exchange for a reduction in Russia’s nuclear arsenal or a commitment to fight the Islamic State.

 

In his press call Monday, Kremlin spokesman Peskov insisted sanctions were not raised during the Trump-Putin call.

 

A shift in tone

 

But many observers pointed hopefully to a Kremlin statement that the two leaders expressed a desire improve “economic cooperation.”

 

“To fully develop economic ties, it’s necessary to create the right climate and legal conditions,” said Russian lawmaker Dmitri Novikov in comments reported by the Interfax news agency.  “That requires canceling sanctions.”

 

Kremlin allies also contrasted the apparently warm rapport between Trump and Putin to the Russian president’s frosty relationships with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francoise Hollande.

Indeed, some argued that the budding Trump-Putin friendship had the potential to shake traditional U.S. allies to the core.

 

“Kyiv, Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn, Warsaw, Oslo, Stockholm, NATO – they’re all horrified by the results of the Putin-Trump call,” crowed Alexey Pushkov, a Russian lawmaker and former head of the Duma’s Foreign Affairs committee in a post to Twitter.

Hacking charges

 

Yet hovering over any budding detente are the accusations the Kremlin meddled in the U.S. election with the aim of helping Trump win the White House.

 

So, too, are unsubstantiated claims the Kremlin possesses compromising sexual material on Trump from a visit to Moscow in 2013.

 

A U.S. investigation also is continuing into whether there were improper contacts between the Trump campaign team and Russian officials during the election campaign.

 

Moscow has repeatedly denied the hacking charges, and angrily dismissed related allegations as attempts to sabotage a new era in U.S.-Russian relations.

 

Still, the hacking scandal gained new intrigue with recent Russian news reports that two intelligence officers from the FSB’s cybersecurity unit were among six Russian nationals arrested and charged with treason.

According to sources quoted by the Interfax news agency, those arrested are suspected of providing information to the CIA – raising questions of its possible connections to the U.S. investigation into Russian hacking.

Kremlin officials have yet to comment.

 

Who is playing whom?

 

Warranted or not, the hacking scandal has made the Trump team sensitive to charges it is beholden to Moscow.  

 

Some Russia analysts point to the White House’s decision to release photos of Trump on the phone with Putin surrounded by Vice President Mike Pence and other advisors as a sign of the administration’s concerns over the optics of Russian rapprochement.

 

But Russian political analyst Feodor Krashenninkov argues the “Trump as Putin’s puppet” theory is overblown.  

 

In an interview with VOA, Krashenninkov noted that Trump’s actions are hemmed in by Republican lawmakers who favor a hardline approach to Russia.

 

“Putin – by contrast – can give away anything,” says Krashenninkov, who noted – in a twist – that it is Putin who would be more likely to embrace the title of Trump’s bestseller, The Art of the Deal.

 

Krashenninkov argued that Trump, in his introductory conversation with the Russian leader, borrowed from another book of American tycoon lore:  Dale Carnegie’s 1936 classic How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Wherever U.S.-Russian relations head next, some in Moscow were reveling in the domestic controversy arising during Trump’s first week in office – including mass protests against the administration’s decision to temporarily ban admission to the United States of all refugees and most citizens of seven Middle Eastern countries.

 

Maxim Shevchenko, a pro-Kremlin journalist, urged his government to enjoy – if not stoke – the chaos.

“Trump is a symbol of the deep, insurmountable and not easily defined confrontation of the societal, political, and economic split in America… therefore, greetings Trump!’  Shevchenko wrote in a post to his Facebook account.

 

“The more chaos, anger, and confrontation they have the better.”


Колишнього голову банку «Михайлівський» Ігоря Дорошенка арештували з можливістю внесення застави, повідомляє речник генерального прокурора України Лариса Сарган.

«Дніпровський райсуд змінив запобіжний захід банкіру Ігорю Дорошенку з домашнього арешту на тримання під вартою з можливістю внесення застави у160 мільйонів гривень», – повідомила Сарган увечері 31 січня у Twitter.

Напередодні прокуратура міста Києва повідомила, що за її клопотанням суд надав дозвіл на затримання Ігоря Дорошенка.

27 січня Дорошенко не з’явився до слідчого прокуратури для оголошення нової підозри – окрім розкрадання майна, йому додатково інкримінується доведення банку до банкрутства.

5 грудня 2016 року прокуратура Києва подала апеляційну скаргу на рішення суду, яким колишнього голову правління банку «Михайлівський» Ігоря Дорошенка звільнили під домашній арешт.

Шевченківський районний суд Києва 3 грудня змінив запобіжний захід Дорошенкові з тримання під вартою на домашній арешт.

12 серпня силовики затримали голову правління банку «Михайлівський». Його підозрюють у розкраданні 870 мільйонів гривень банківських коштів та доведення банку до неплатоспроможності. 13 серпня Шевченківський райсуд Києва арештував екс-голову правління банку «Михайлівський» на два місяці з можливістю внесення застави у розмірі 137,8 мільйона гривень.

23 травня Національний банк України своєю постановою визнав банк «Михайлівський» неплатоспроможним і запровадив у ньому тимчасову адміністрацію. Однак від того часу, за словами вкладників банку, вони не можуть отримати своїх депозитів чи коштів на карткових рахунках, не можуть  використовувати їх і в безготівкових розрахунках. 



A new documentary on legendary investor Warren Buffett sheds light on just how his spending habits may have made him wealthy.

In the documentary “Becoming Warren Buffett,” which airs on HBO, the billionaire said he never spends more than $3.17 for breakfast most days.

“I tell my wife, as I shave in the morning, I say, ‘Either $2.61, $2.95 or $3.17.’ And she puts that amount in the little cup by me here [in the car],” he explains in HBO’s documentary “Becoming Warren Buffett,” which first aired Monday.

The 86-year-old, who is the third richest man in the world, usually gets his breakfasts at McDonald’s on his way to work.

“When I’m not feeling quite so prosperous, I might go with the $2.61, which is two sausage patties, and then I put them together and pour myself a Coke,” Buffett said in the documentary. “$3.17 is a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit, but the market’s down this morning, so I’ll pass up the $3.17 and go with the $2.95.”

The investing guru has long had a reputation for frugality, as he still lives in a 5-bedroom house in Omaha, Nebraska, which he bought for $31,000 in 1958.


U.N. agencies are reacting with dismay and alarm to the decision by the Trump Administration to temporarily suspend U.S. refugee resettlement programs.  The agencies report the impact of this decision is having an unsettling impact upon the refugees.  

The U.N. refugee agency reports more than 800 refugees set to make America their new home this week have been barred from traveling to the United States.  The UNHCR estimates 20,000 more vulnerable refugees will be denied entry to the United States during the 120-day freeze of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

The suspension is part of an Executive Order signed by President Trump, as he said, to keep “radical Islamic terrorists” out of the country and to establish new “extreme vetting” measures of immigrants.

UNHCR spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci tells VOA a lengthy and rigorous screening process of refugees, which can take up to two years to complete already is in place.

“We do a first interview and screening and then the countries, so all 30 countries that do resettlement, it is not just the United States doing resettlement, does another part of the screening,” Maestracci said. “They make the final decision as to who will be resettled in their country.  And, there is an entire part of the process, the screening process that is in their hands … It is fair to say that refugees being resettled to the United States are among the most vetted people coming into that country.”   

International Organization for Migration spokesman Leonard Doyle says every country has a right to look to its own security and determine its own borders.  But he tells VOA IOM is very concerned about the refugees who have gone through the screening process and security checks and then been left in limbo.

“And, after perhaps four years of waiting, waiting patiently to be resettled, they have sold their goods, they have given away their settlement in a refugee camp where they may have been for two decades,” Doyle said. “They have lost their livelihood, given away their job, handed back their ration card only to be told at the last minute and rather cruelly to go back to the refugee camp.”

Doyle says IOM enormously respects the U.S. role as a beacon of hope for refugees and migrants for decades.  He adds while every country has a right to patrol its own borders, IOM believes in bridges rather than walls.  


Чеська гуманітарна організація «Людина у скруті» підготувала план допомоги жителям Авдіївки попри труднощі щодо комунікації з непідконтрольною територією Україні.

Чеські волонтери підготували план надання допомоги жителям прифронтової лінії.

Як розповів Радіо Свобода керівник гуманітарних місій «Людини у скруті» Томаш Коціан, у разі евакуації жителів області для них на складах уже приготовлений не тільки зимовий одяг, але й теплі одіяла і все, що потребують люди під час евакуації.

Коли б до евакуації не дійшло, тоді «у нас буде можливість на місцях допомогти людям їжею, будівельними матеріалами для швидкого ремонту вікон чи будинків», розповідає Томаш Коціан.

Працівники організації донедавна надавали допомогу також жителям Донбасу по обидва боки лінії розмежування. Однак наприкінці листопада 2016 року представники угруповання «ДНР» без попереджень і пояснень відмовили «Людині у скруті» в акредитації.

«Людина у скруті» намагається надавати допомогу всім громадянам, хто її потребує, попри те, з якого боку фронтової лінії вони перебувають. «Тобто, якщо б нам знову дали акредитацію, ми б продовжили надавати гуманітарну допомогу», – наголосив Коціан.

Зараз чеські гуманітарні працівники можуть надавати допомогу лише громадянам контрольованих Україною районів Донбасу.


More than 1,000 foreign service officers and civil service personnel of the U.S. State Department have now signed a dissent document about the president’s recent order on refugees’ travel restrictions, sources told VOA on Tuesday.​

The number of signatures, if it does total some 1,000, is “unprecedented” and about 20 times the number of dissenters for last year’s memo from diplomats sharply criticizing the Obama administration’s Syria policy, said former U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford.

The huge numbers for the immigration memo and its early leaking “are clear indicators of the widespread concern within the department over this specific policy step and unease over the broad direction of foreign policy,” said Laura Kennedy, former deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs.

“These are extraordinary times,” she added.

The Dissent Channel memo, which warns that the administration’s move “will not achieve its aims and will likely be counterproductive,” has yet to be formally submitted, according to the State Department, which says it cannot comment on its substance, how many have signed it or the ranks of the signatories.

Those at the State Department who oppose President Donald Trump’s immigration order “should either get with the program or they can go,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on Monday. “This is about the safety of America.”

Former diplomats bristled at what is being perceived as a implicit threat against the foreign service community.

“The Dissent Channel is an entirely appropriate means of expressing opposition to the top leadership of the Department of State,” Ford told VOA. “The Trump people shouldn’t take it so personally.”

“I was appalled by (Spicer’s) comment,” said Kennedy, also a former ambassador to Turkmenistan, told VOA. “It either implied a complete misunderstanding of the dissent channel or the legal protections there are, or it’s intended to send a signal that dissent, whether private or public, will not be tolerated.”

“The time-honored tradition of respectful dissent at State is supported by the very American and constitutional values that this cable honors and that the executive order tramples,” Yale University Law School professor Harold Hongju Koh, a former assistant secretary of state and State Department legal adviser, told VOA.

President Trump last Friday signed an executive order prohibiting entry to refugees and people from seven Muslim majority countries. The order includes a 120-day suspension of refugee admissions and a 90-day entry ban for people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Spicer added from the podium Wednesday the order is “about the safety of Americans” and the steps the president ordered are “common sense.”

According to a draft seen by VOA, the dissent memo expresses grave concerns that the travel ban will not achieve its goal “to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States.” It also warns that the action will “immediately sour relations” with key allies in the fight against terrorism, given many of the nations whose citizens are now restricted from traveling to U.S. soil.

The memo suggests alternatives, including improving visa and immigration screening.

The Dissent Channel was established in 1971, amid disputes about Vietnam War policies, to allow U.S. diplomats to speak freely about foreign policy matters.

Typically four to five Dissent Channel messages are received each year, according to the State Department. Last year’s Syria Dissent Channel memo had 51 signatures, according to diplomats.

When State Department or U.S. Agency for International Development employees believe their voices are not heard by supervisors, they may use the Dissent Channel. At the State Department, the policy planning staff is supposed to review it, circulate it to authorized people and reply in substance to the dissenters within 60 days.

Those utilizing the Dissent Channel are protected from reprisals, disciplinary action or unauthorized disclosure of its use, according to the government’s Foreign Affairs Manual.

Ford, who was a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service, predicted that if the White House tries to retaliate “they’ll end up with lawsuits.” But Ford added that after expressing their opinion through the proper channels,​foreign service officers are obligated to implement administration policy.

“It is their job to implement what the president and his team decide,” explained Ford. ” If they can’t implement it then, frankly, they should think whether they should be in a government job.”

Ford, currently a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, acknowledged the challenge of U.S. diplomats in Baghdad having to explain “why this policy is a good policy” to their counterparts who fought alongside U.S. forces against terrorist elements.

“I can’t imagine anything more difficult,” Ford said. Without proper guidance from Washington “they have to wing it which is even harder.”

Officials on Monday also revealed that the State Department is receiving multiple cables from its embassies about foreign anger concerning the restrictions on travel to the U.S. from the predominately Muslim countries in the executive order.

“As is standard, the State Department remains in contact with its embassies around the world on foreign policy issues,” a department official, speaking on condition of not being named, told VOA when asked about the cable. “We will not comment on internal communications.”

The president’s nominee to be secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has yet to be confirmed by the Senate. A vote on Tillerson, a recently retired oil and gas company executive, is expected this week.


Прем’єр-міністр України Володимир Гройсман заявляє, що станом на 19.00 ситуація в Авдіївці складна, але контрольована. Про це він сказав під час засідання оперативного штабу в Авдіївській військово-цивільній адміністрації ввечері увечері 31 січня, повідомляє прес-служба Кабміну.

«Вдається зберігати тепло у будинках, але відновлення постачання електроенергії неможливе без припинення вогню. Були відпрацьовані усі варіанти розвитку подій. Усі служби чітко розуміють, що кожен має робити», – мовиться у повідомленні.

Прем’єр-міністр доручив також соціальним службам відвідати літніх людей, за потреби забезпечити їх гарячим харчуванням.

Вранці 29 січня розпочалися запеклі бої неподалік Авдіївки. Сторони конфлікту звинуватили одна одну у спричиненні цих боїв. Українська сторона заявила, що бойовики розпочали обстрілювати і саме місто. Унаслідок обстрілів Авдіївки від неділі, за останніми даними української сторони, загинули 6 військових, десятки поранені.

Сепаратисти, у свою чергу, заявляють, що двоє бойовиків загинули, шестеро отримали поранення сьогодні в результаті обстрілу з боку українських силовиків, одна місцева жителька загинула.


The first two weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency have seen him sign a number of documents setting out policy on issues ranging from the travel ban, his order demanding that two regulations be rescinded for every one passed, to the rollback of the Affordable Care Act, and removing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Some of these documents have come in the form of executive orders, and some as White House memoranda. What’s the difference? What kind of power do they carry, and what are some of the most famous?

Executive orders vs. memoranda

First things first: both have what is known as the “force of law,” which means they have the same power as legislation passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president.

The differences are more subtle.

– Executive orders are numbered and published in the Federal Register, the official journal of the United States government; memoranda need not be published there.

– Executive orders must specify the authority behind the order, whether it is the Constitution or a law.

– Executive orders must also indicate the price of executing the order; memoranda do not require a price tag unless they exceed $100 million.

Two important things to note about executive orders and memoranda: they’re implementation isn’t automatic. For instance, one of President Obama’s first acts as president was to sign an executive order closing the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. Sixteen years later, it’s still up and running.

The other important thing to note is that some of the president’s executive orders, building a border wall for instance, are going to cost the United States billions of dollars and Congress is in charge of the money needed to build that wall.

Under the Constitution, Congress has the unique power to spend or “appropriate” government dollars. It’s not yet clear if Congress is willing to spend that kind of money to help President Trump make good on a campaign promise.

Some of the biggest

Every U.S. president except one (William Henry Harrison) has issued executive orders and memoranda, from George Washington all the way up to President Trump. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only president who served more than two terms, also issued the most executive orders, a whopping 3,721 of them, most regarding measures to combat the Great Depression and U.S. actions during World War II.

Some executive orders have literally changed history, for better or worse. Here are a few of the most famous:

The Emancipation Proclamation. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. It freed all slaves living in the Confederacy during the Civil War. Since the southern states had seceded from the Union, the proclamation had little effect initially other than to ensure the freedom of any slaves who escaped to the northern states.

The New Deal. In the midst of the Great Depression, FDR issued many executive orders designed to get jobless Americans working again. During the winter of 1933, he established the Civil Works Administration, which created 4 million new government jobs. He also used his presidential authority to create the Export/Import Bank, and in 1934, the Rural Electrification Administration, which brought electricity to remote parts of the country.

Japanese-American Internment. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in 1941, FDR signed Executive Order 9066, which allowed military leaders to designate strategic parts of the country as “military areas … from which any or all persons may be excluded.” It also gave the military the responsibility to “provide for residents … who are excluded … such transportation, food, shelter, and other accommodations as may be necessary…” The result was that 120,000 men, women and children, most of them American citizens of Japanese descent, were deported from the U.S. West Coast and placed in internment camps between 1942 and 1945.

Desegregation of the Military. In 1948, three years after the end of World War II, President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981, which officially desegregated the United States military. The order was a simple statement: “There shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the Armed Services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.” Up until that point, military units were segregated by race; soldiers trained, worked and even fought in groups separated by race.

Sign of the times

Very few of the thousands of executive orders and memoranda that have been issued are as momentous as the ones listed here. Some of them express the frustration of a president facing a hostile Congress unwilling to pass legislation. Others are expressions of issues of great topical importance. Together they offer an insight into American history and reflect the priorities of each president and the times in which he served.


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has defended the implementation of President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting immigration, saying “we cannot gamble with American lives.”

“This is not a travel ban, this is a temporary pause that allows us to review the existing refugee and vetting visa system.” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said.

He said the new order is aimed at keeping terrorists out of the country but stressed that it is not a “Muslim ban.”

WATCH: Kelly on Trump’s immigration order

Officials say 872 refugees will be admitted to the country because of hardship concerns, despite the order.

Trump wasted no time Monday night in firing an acting attorney general who earlier in the day ordered the Justice Department not to defend his executive order temporarily banning travelers from seven mostly Muslim countries.

A White House statement said Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”

The statement also called Yates “weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.”

It said Trump relieved her of her duties and named Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as acting attorney general. The president’s nominee for attorney general, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, is likely to be confirmed soon by his Senate colleagues.

Earlier Monday, Yates wrote a letter to Justice Department lawyers saying, “I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”

Then-President Barack Obama appointed Yates to be deputy attorney general in 2015, and she was asked to stay on by the Trump administration until a new attorney general is confirmed by the Senate.

After Trump relieved Yates of her duties, the White House said, “Calling for tougher vetting for individuals traveling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary.”

At the White House briefing Monday, spokesman Sean Spicer launched a fresh defense of Trump’s sweeping travel ban, saying only a tiny fraction of those entering U.S. territory since Friday have been affected.

Spicer told reporters that 109 people have so far been stopped from entering the United States, out of 325,000 foreign nationals who have entered the country in a single 24-hour period since the ban was imposed.

He said those 109 individuals had been “temporarily inconvenienced,” and characterized those detentions as a small price to pay to ensure the safety of all Americans. 

Trump took to Twitter earlier Monday to defend his executive order, which suspends U.S. entry to all refugees for 120 days, and bans Syrian refugees indefinitely. The decree further blocks citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia from entering U.S. territory for a period of three months.

WATCH: Trump Defends Executive Order, Criticizes Schumer

Trump has insisted the ban is not a religious measure targeting Muslims, instead calling it a series of precautionary steps needed to keep America safe.

However, the national litigation director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Lena Masri, on Monday called the ban a “Muslim exclusion order” and said her organization was filing two lawsuits challenging the executive orders.

The ban was initially described as blocking green card holders from Iran and the six other Muslim majority nations from reentering U.S. territory, but the Trump administration has since sought to clarify the directive, saying green card holders and non-citizen visa holders will no longer be automatically blocked.

Top lawmakers bristle, call for reversal

Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer continued to attack the travel restrictions Monday, saying the ban should be reversed immediately “because it is un-American.”

On the floor of the Senate, he warned colleagues that Islamic State extremists stand to gain the most from the travel ban, saying they “want nothing more than to paint the United States as a country at war with Islam.” He also reminded his audience that America was founded “by the descendants of asylum seekers,” and that the country has been “constantly invigorated by immigrants.”

Senior Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized Trump’s order Sunday, saying the confusion at airports showed the measure was “not properly vetted.”

Trump responded to McCain and Graham on Twitter, calling them “weak on immigration” and saying they should be focused on Islamic State, illegal immigration and border security.

Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, also blasted the travel ban.

In comments to VOA’s Urdu service, he said Trump “did not convince any of us that he has sound legal or national security concerns. For example, the Syrian refugees are subjected to at least two years of scrutiny and extreme vetting already, and once they come here they are safe, they are vetted. There is no terrorist attack that happened at the hands of a Syrian refugee, or any refugee, that we know,” Awad said. “So for him to base all his executive order on [that] false notion is un-American, unethical.”

Confusion reigns at airports

The ban’s implementation led to a weekend of confusion, particularly at the nation’s airports, where in some cases people holding green cards as permanent legal residents were detained for extra questioning before being allowed entry.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued a statement Sunday seeking to clarify the policy, saying he deems “the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest.”

Separately Monday, State Department employees and U.S. diplomats opposed to Trump’s order circulated a “dissent channel memo” that said the administration’s move “will not achieve its aims and will likely be counterproductive.”

The State Department says it is aware of the memo. The Dissent Channel is a longstanding official vehicle for State Department employees to convey alternative views and perspectives on policy issues.

Signs are seen strewn about the ground as protesters rally at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California, Jan. 29, 2017.

Right to revoke visas

In a separate statement Sunday, the Department of Homeland Security said the government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if necessary for national security. That followed an emergency order by a federal court in New York temporarily barring the deportation of people who arrive at U.S. airports with a valid visa or an approved refugee application.

Judge Ann Donnelly wrote, “There is imminent danger that, absent the stay of removal, there will be substantial and irreparable injury to refugees, visa-holders, and other individuals from nations” who are subject to the president’s order.

Trump has repeatedly called for stricter screening of refugees, and the senior administration official who briefed reporters Sunday described the previous system as “woefully inadequate.”

State Department correspondents Steve Herman and Nike Ching, and reporters Mohamad Olad, James Butty and Saqib Islam contributed to this report


President Donald Trump’s executive orders last week limiting immigration to the U.S. may be the first such directives in recent years, but they are hardly the first time the U.S. government has sought to restrict immigration.

The U.S. Constitution, which went into effect in 1789, gave Congress “absolute authority” over immigration law, says Linda Monk, who wrote a book about the Constitution called “The Words We Live By.”  The president executes those laws through regulations.

For about the first 100 years of American history, Congress did not place any federal limits on immigration.

 

 

During those years, Irish and German immigrants came to the U.S. in large numbers. Many Chinese immigrants did, too. In the 1860s, they came to work as laborers on the continental railroad and stayed.

Members of the American public disapproved of these groups. They did not like the Catholic religion that many Irish and German immigrants practiced. And they did not like Asian immigrants, whom they viewed as convicts, prostitutes, or competition for jobs.

So, in the late 1800s, Congress moved for the first time to limit the number of immigrants. Lawmakers targeted Asians, especially Chinese. The Page Act and the Chinese Exclusion Act banned most Chinese women and workers.

Restrictions on other nationalities

By the turn of the 20th century, the U.S. federal government had increased its role in immigration. It established Ellis Island in New York as the entry point for immigrants. And it oversaw a dramatic increase in the number of immigrants, especially from Italy and Eastern Europe. Many of the new arrivals were uneducated and had little money.

Once again, some people opposed the number and kind of immigrants entering the country. A group called the Immigration Restriction League was formed. They petitioned Congress to require immigrants to show that they could at least read.

Both Presidents Grover Cleveland and President Woodrow Wilson opposed the requirement. But in 1917, Congress approved the measure over Wilson’s objections. People who wished to settle in the U.S. now had to pass a literacy test.

In the 1920s, restrictions on immigration increased. The Immigration Act of 1924 was the most severe: it limited the overall number of immigrants and established quotas based on nationality. Among other things, the act sharply reduced immigrants from Eastern Europe and Africa. And it completely restricted immigrants from Asia, except for Japan and the Philippines.

At the same time, the historian’s page at the State Department notes that the act made more visas available to people from Britain and Western Europe.

“In all of its parts, the most basic purpose of the 1924 Immigration Act was to preserve the ideal of U.S. homogeneity,” the State Department history page concludes.

Major change

During the 1940s and 50s, the U.S. made some policy changes that increased – however slightly – the number and nationalities of immigrants.

Then, in 1965, a major change happened. Under pressure in part from the civil rights movement, Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act.  President Lyndon Johnson signed it.  

The act eliminated the quota system based on nationality. Instead, it prioritized immigrants who already had family members in the U.S. It also sought to offer protection to refugees from areas with violence and conflict.

Even though the act kept some limits in place, the origins of immigrants changed dramatically. Instead of being from Western Europe, most immigrants to the U.S. by the end of the 20th century were originally from Mexico, the Philippines, Korea, the Dominican Republic, India, Cuba and Vietnam.

So, what about Trump’s order?

Kunal Parker, a professor at the University of Miami School of Law, says the 1965 law ended “overt discrimination” in U.S. immigration policy. Parker is also the author of a book called “Making Foreigners: Immigration and Citizenship Law in America.”

Parker says that people who are protesting Trump’s executive order probably “perceive what is happening as contrary to U.S. tradition since 1965.”

The order bans refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Protesters argue that Trump’s order discriminates against Muslims and defies the American tradition of welcoming immigrants.

But Parker cautions against seeing Trump’s action as illegal. He points out that the Supreme Court has historically permitted the president and Congress a good deal of authority to regulate immigration.

And, he notes, President Obama also signed an executive order related to immigration. That order aimed to protect the families of undocumented immigrants with U.S.-born children.

However, Parker says, “Something that is legal might be very problematic.”

Both Parker and legal scholar Linda Monk also note the Constitution requires both Congress and the president follow certain procedures when regulating immigration. Those procedures protect against discrimination.

“The highest law says that these actions have to be carried out fairly,” says Monk.


Тимчасово повірений у справах США при ОБСЄ Кейт Бернс закликає до відведення військових і техніки від лінії розмежування на Донбасі. Про це вона заявила 31 січняна засіданні Постійної ради ОБСЄ.

«26 січня Російська Федерація застерегла Постійну раду щодо ризику воєнної ескалації на сході України. За два дні, 28 січня, бойові дії серйозно посилилися. Комбіновані російсько-сепаратистські війська розпочали наступ на українські позиції у, і навколо Авдіївки. Бої настільки посилилися, що Спеціальна моніторингова місія назвала кількість порушень перемир’я «незліченною», – заявила на засіданні Кейт Байрнс.

«Хоча українські війська відбили наступ російсько-сепаратистських сил, бої забрали життя восьми українських солдатів, 26 були поранені. У відповідь на ці останні агресивні дії, Україна встановила нові, більш укріплені позиції на українському боці лінії контакту на півдні Авдіївки. Але зрештою, лише відведення військ і важкого озброєння з обох боків, про що йдеться у мінських домовленостях, зробить можливим тривале припинення вогню, що є надзвичайно важливим для людей в Україні», – наголосила Бернес.

Постійна рада ОБСЄ у вівторок проводить термінове засідання щодо загострення ситуації в Авдіївці Донецької області.

Перед цим голова Спеціальної моніторингової місії ОБСЄ в Україні Ертугул Апакан закликав до негайного припинення боїв у районі Авдіївки – Ясинуватої – Донецького аеропорту на сході України.

Вранці 29 січня розпочалися запеклі бої неподалік Авдіївки. Сторони конфлікту звинуватили одна одну у спричиненні цих боїв. Українська сторона заявила, що бойовики розпочали обстрілювати і саме місто. Унаслідок обстрілів Авдіївки від неділі, за останніми даними української сторони, загинули 6 військових, десятки поранені, також поранені 5 мирних жителів.


У ЄС закликають до негайного припинення бойових дій на Донбасі.

«Посилення боїв навколо Авдіївки упродовж останніх днів, включаючи обстріли з забороненого важкого озброєння, та збільшення кількості нещасних випадків, є серйозним порушенням режиму припинення вогню, визначеного мінськими домовленостями. Це створює смертельний ризик для цивільних. Більше того, останні інциденти спричинили переривання у постачанні базових комунальних послуг місцевим жителям», – заявила 31 січня Майя Коціянчич, речниця голови європейської дипломатії Федеріки Моґеріні.

«Ми, як Європейський союз, закликаємо припинити бойові дії», – наголосила Коціянчич.

Останнім часом на Донбасі загострилася ситуація, зокрема, від 29 січня біля Авдіївки тривають запеклі бої неподалік Авдіївки. Сторони конфлікту звинуватили одна одну у спричиненні цих боїв.

Унаслідок обстрілів Авдіївки від неділі, за останніми даними української сторони, загинули 6 військових, десятки поранені, також поранені 5 мирних жителів.

Складна гуманітарна ситуація і в окупованій Ясинуватій, що навпроти Авдіївки по той бік лінії фронту. Через бойові дії на окупованих територіях теж гинуть чи зазнають поранень мирні мешканці.

За словами сепаратистів, внаслідок обстрілу Київського району Донецька з боку ЗСУ у вівторок загинула мирна жителька, також, за їхніми словами, група журналістів нібито потрапила під обстріл.

Контактна група зі врегулювання ситуації на Донбасі неодноразово оголошувала режим тиші на сході України, проте обстріли тривають, а сторони конфлікту звинувачують одна одну в порушенні перемир’я.


Генеральний директор Авдіївського коксохімічного заводу Муса Магомедов назвав ситуацію довкола міста «стабільно важкою». Водночас, як заявив він в ефірі Радіо Свобода, Авдіївка з теплом, а завод продовжує випускати продукцію.

«Ми зараз на самостійній генерації – виробляємо близько 5 МВт. Цього вистачає, щоб забезпечити мінімальне виробництво. Частина заводу виведена в консервацію. Продовжуємо працювати і виробляти кокс, щоправда, в три рази менше, ніж до обстрілів», – зазначив Муса Магомедов в ефірі Радіо Свобода.

Допомагають заводу інші металургійні підприємства України. «Як тільки стало важко, першими до нас звернулися металурги. Чекаємо від них продукти, генератори. Дзвонять запитують, чим допомогти», – розповів Магомедов.

Ні електрики, ні води в місті зараз немає. За його даними, близько двох тисяч жителів уже виїхали з міста.

«Хтось вивозить сім’ї, вивозить родини. Ми дали сьогодні автобус вивезти дітей у Святогірськ. Поки що централізованої евакуації не було і сподіваємося, що вдасться її уникнути», – додав директор заводу.

Влада Донеччини ще вранці 31 січня заявила, що готує евакуацію близько 12 тисяч жителів Авдіївки. Для цього підготували 80 автобусів і два приміські електропоїзди. Перших чотирьох людей з інвалідністю вже вивезли. Втім, до масової евакуації справа не дійшла через те, що режим тиші так і не запрацював.

Бої в Авдіївці спалахнули рано-вранці 29 січня і тривають уже третю добу. Сторони звинувачують одна одну.

30 січня в Авдіївці повідомили про знеструмлення Авдіївського коксохімічного заводу – головного підприємства міста – внаслідок чого тепер місто залишилося без електрики, тепла й води.

 


Massachusetts on Tuesday plans to join a court fight against U.S. President Donald Trump’s order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, a move that the state’s attorney general criticized as unconstitutional.

Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, said in a posting on Twitter late on Monday that her office would join a lawsuit in federal court challenging the ban. A federal judge in Boston, home to Logan International Airport, on Saturday blocked Trump’s order from being enforced for seven days.

“We will be joining in a lawsuit challenging Trump’s immigration order,” Healy said on Twitter. “What he did was unconstitutional & harmful to (Massachusetts).”

Massachusetts would be following the lead of Washington state, which said on Monday that it would be filing a lawsuit in federal court challenging the ban on constitutional grounds.

Trump’s order halted travel by people with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and stopped the resettlement of refugees for 120 days. In an interview with a Christian broadcaster over the weekend, Trump said he would give preference to Syrian Christians seeking refugee status.

The White House has described the ban as necessary “to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States.”

Thousands of people took to the streets and airports of major U.S. cities over the weekend to protest the move, which also has provoked a global backlash, including criticism from U.S. allies who view the move as discriminatory.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion.

Federal judges in five states blocked U.S. authorities over the weekend from enforcing the order.

U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs of Massachusetts took the strongest action by barring the detention or removal of approved refugees, visa holders and permanent U.S. residents entering from the seven countries for seven days. Her order also stopped federal officials from expelling from the country two Iranian men who teach at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.