U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers will be key players in putting President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban into effect on Thursday, affecting visitors from six mostly Muslim countries.

They are the officers dressed in blue who are stationed at airports and border crossings and screen people coming into the U.S. They stamp passports, inspect travel documents, confiscate drugs and other illicit items and make sure belongings and purchases are properly declared.

Customs and Border Protection officers were embroiled in chaos when an earlier version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban took effect, forcing them to turn away visa holders who were later allowed in. They will be in the mix again for the new ban affecting visitors from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen.

Here’s a look at what they do:

Wat is customs and border protection?

The agency was created as part of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003 after attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Its largest division – the Office of Field Operations – admits people and goods at 328 airports, land crossings and seaports. They admitted 390 million travelers during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, including 119 million at airports.

Much of the work done by the agency is at border crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The busiest point of entry is San Diego’s San Ysidro crossing with Tijuana, Mexico, with 31.8 million admissions during the latest 12-month period, an average of 87,000 a day. El Paso, Texas, across from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, was second-busiest with 28.8 million admissions, followed by San Diego’s Otay Mesa crossing (17.8 million), Laredo, Texas (17.7 million), and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (15.9 million).

The travel ban will mostly affect airports because that’s how visitors from the six countries generally arrive. Aside from JFK, the only airports to crack the top 20 in passenger volume are Miami International (No. 11), Los Angeles International (No. 12) and San Francisco International (No. 20).

How will officiers enforce the tranvel ban?

The Trump administration on Wednesday set new criteria for visa applicants from the six countries and all refugees that require a “close” family or business tie to the United States.

Visas that have already been approved will not be revoked, but instructions issued by the State Department say that new applicants from the six countries must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the United States to be eligible. The same requirement, with some exceptions, holds for would-be refugees from all nations that are still awaiting approval for admission to the U.S.

Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, fiancees or other extended family members are not considered to be close relationships, according to the guidelines that were issued in a cable sent to all U.S. embassies and consulates late on Wednesday. The new rules take effect at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday (0000GMT on Friday), according to the cable, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

The task falls largely to the State Department but Customs and Border Protection officers would get involved if someone from one of the six countries arrived without a visa or there was a reason to question the validity of their documents.

What illegal activity do officers find?

Agents primarily seize drugs and stop people seeking to enter the country illegally.

Drugs – increasingly heroin and methamphetamine – are commonly smuggled into the United States by car from Mexico. People enter the country illegally by hiding in trunks or by using someone else’s travel documents.

Officers denied admission 274,821 times at airports, land crossings and seaports during the latest fiscal year, an increase of 8 percent from the same period a year earlier. They seized 257 tons of marijuana, 26.3 tons of cocaine, 18.8 tons of methamphetamine and 2.1 tons of heroin.

An estimated 40 percent of people in the country illegally overstay their visas, and one of the agency’s top priorities is to better track them. The absence of a system for people to check out when the leave the country makes that a daunting and expensive endeavor. Homeland Security said in May that nearly 740,000 foreigners overstayed visas during the latest fiscal year, and that was only for those who arrived by plane or ship.

Is it different than border control?

The Border Patrol is another division within the agency. Customs and Border Protection agents wear blue uniforms and patrol ports of entry. Border Patrol agents work areas between and wear green uniforms.

Customs and Border Protection is the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, with about 60,000 employees and an annual budget of $13.5 billion. Trump has requested 21 percent spending increase, partly to build a wall on the border with Mexico and hire more Border Patrol agents.

What about the staffing shortage?

The Trump administration said this month that it has 1,400 vacancies for officers at ports of entry. Customs and Border Protection has struggled to fill jobs for years, largely because an unusually high number of applicants fail a pass a polygraph that has been a hiring requirement since 2012. One official recently said 75 percent failed, more than double the average among law enforcement agencies surveyed by The Associated Press.

The House of Representatives passed a bill this month to waive the polygraph requirement for many veterans and some other applicants. Customs and Border Protection recently said it was easing some physical fitness and language requirements in hiring.

The administration has called for expanding the Border Patrol by 5,000 agents but has not proposed any increase in officers at airports, land crossings and seaports.


The United States is hours away from implementing new travel rules requiring visa applicants from six majority-Muslim nations to have a close relationship with a family member or business in the U.S. in order to be eligible to be admitted to the country.

Senior administration officials Thursday outlined how consular officials should proceed with the visa applications for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The new rules will be implemented at 8 p.m. EST on Thursday.

Anyone in transit to the U.S. with travel scheduled before July 6 will be allowed to enter. Those with travel booked after will be addressed “later,” according to senior administration officials.

Previously scheduled visa application appointments will not be cancelled, administration officials said, but all new applicants would have to prove their bona fide relationship to a family member or business in the U.S. in addition to passing traditional screening.

“We expect business as usual at ports of entry starting at 8 p.m.,” the officials said, anticipating a smooth roll-out. Implementation of a first version of the travel order in January was met with protests at airports around the country.

Refugees

Although a 120-day ban on refugees and yearly cap of 50,000 total refugees coming to the United States also comes into effect Thursday evening, any refugee who can prove a relationship to a family member in the U.S. may be allowed entry.

Senior administration officials said 49,009 refugees had been admitted to the U.S. in fiscal year 2017 as of Wednesday night, nearing the cap three quarters of the way through the fiscal year that begins in October. But the cap is likely to be exceeded as additional refugees are accepted on the basis of family ties. Officials said about half of refugees admitted to the U.S. have family in the country.

Acceptable vs unacceptable relationships

Acceptable close family relationships include a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling who is already in the United States.

 

Relationships that do not meet the requirement include grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, cousin, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, fiancee or other extended family.

An acceptable business relationship has to be “formal, documented,” and not created for the purpose of evading the travel ban. Something like a hotel reservation would not meet the requirement.

The guidance comes days after the Supreme Court partially reinstated an executive order limiting travel by President Donald Trump that had been held up by lower courts on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. The court will hold its own hearing on the legal challenges in October.

In their decision announced Monday, the justices said only visitors who can prove they have a “bona fide relationship” in the United States would be admitted, but did not give a definition of what an acceptable relationship was in terms of who should be exempt from the ban.

Lawyers ready to offer help at airports

Some U.S. immigration lawyers say many of their clients from the six affected countries are still filled with uncertainty. A number of attorneys plan to set themselves up at international airports ready to offer help, as they did when the original executive order was put in place.

Trump says the order is necessary to protect national security, with the entry freezes meant to give the government time to strengthen vetting procedures.

 


A 25-year-old Ohio man pleaded guilty to allegations he was involved in a terrorist plot in 2015, according to newly unsealed legal documents.

Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud was charged by a federal grand jury with providing material support to terrorists, providing support to a designated terrorist organization, and of lying to the FBI about international terrorism. His guilty plea was sealed until Thursday because of an open investigation.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Dana J. Boente said Thursday, “Mohamud admitted to traveling overseas, providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and receiving training from terrorists. He also admitted to returning to the United States and planning to conduct an attack on American soil. He will now be held accountable for his crimes.”

Mohamud was born in Somalia and came to the United States when he was two years old. According to court records, his brother was fighting in Syria by 2013, and Mohamud provided material support to him from the United States.

Mohamud became a naturalized citizen in 2014, promptly submitting an application for a passport, and buying a one-way ticket for Athens, Greece, with a layover in Istanbul, Turkey. When he landed in Istanbul, instead of flying on to Athens, he travelled to Syria and joined the al-Nusrah Front, with the help of his brother.

In Syria, he trained with weapons and engaged in combat. Court documents indicated that he “expressed a desire to die fighting in Syria.”

Instead, he was instructed by al-Nusrah to return to the United States and commit an act of terror. He recruited several U.S.-based people to help him carry out “something big,” before being questioned by the FBI.

Boente said, “We will remain vigilant in our efforts to identify, disrupt, and bring to justice those who provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations and seek to conduct attacks on our homeland.”

 


Several companies around the world continue to report outages and damage from Tuesday’s massive Petya cyberattack that hit firms in more than 60 countries.

Heritage Valley Health System, a network of medical offices in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania reported Thursday it still could not provide lab or diagnostic testing to patients. The company said some surgeries had to be canceled and and its satellite offices had been closed since Wednesday.

The large Danish shipping company A.P. Moller-Maersk – one of the largest companies hit by the cyberattack – said it had restored operations at some of its terminals, but others remained inoperable.

A.P. Moller-Maersk said it couldn’t be specific about how many sites were affected, but noted some terminals are “operating slower than usual or with limited functionality.”

Similarities to WannaCry

Europol director Rob Wainwright called Tuesday’s hack “another serious ransomware attack.” He said it bore resemblances to the previous ‘WannaCry’ hack, but it also showed indications of a “more sophisticated attack capability intended to exploit a range of vulnerabilities.”

The WannaCry hack sent a wave of crippling ransomware to hospitals across Britain in May, causing the hospitals to divert ambulances and cancel surgeries. The program demanded a ransom to unlock access to files stored on infected machines.

Researchers eventually found a way to thwart the hack, but only after about 300 people had already paid the ransom.

The most recent hack has been largely contained, but now some researchers are questioning the motivation behind the attack. They say it may not have been designed to collect a ransom, but instead to simply destroy data.

“There may be a more nefarious motive behind the attack,” Gavin O’Gorman, an investigator with U.S. antivirus firm Symantec, said in a blog post. “Perhaps this attack was never intended to make money [but] rather to simply disrupt a large number of Ukrainian organizations.”

Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab similarly noted that the code used in the hacking software wouldn’t have allowed its authors to decrypt the stolen data after a ransom had been paid.

“It appears it was designed as a wiper pretending to be ransomware,” Kapersky researchers Anton Ivanov and Orkhan Mamedov wrote in a blog post. “This is the worst-case news for the victims – even if they pay the ransom they will not get their data back.”

NSA tools

The computer virus used in the attack includes code known as Eternal Blue, a tool developed by the NSA that exploited Microsoft’s Windows operating system, and which was published on the internet in April by a group called Shadowbrokers. Microsoft released a patch in March to protect systems from that vulnerability.

Tim Rawlins, director of the Britain-based cybersecurity consultancy NCC Group, said these attacks continue to happen because people have not been keeping up with effectively patching their computers.

“This is a repeat WannaCry type of outbreak and it really comes down to the fact that people are not focusing on what they should be focusing on, the very simple premise of patching your systems,” Rawlins told VOA.


Організатори пісенного конкурсу «Євробачення» заявляють, що Україну можуть оштрафувати за відмову пустити російську співачку Юлію Самойлову, оскільки дії Києва завдали шкоди репутації конкурсу. 

У свою чергу, російському «Першому каналу» європейські мовники направили зауваження за відмову транслювати змагання, але штрафувати Росію організатори «Євробачення» не будуть.

Раніше у четвер голова НСТУ Зураб Аласанія повідомив, що щодо Національної суспільної телекомпанії України будуть застосовані штрафні санкції через незабезпечення участі у проведеному в Києві «Євробачення-2017» учасниці від Росії Юлії Самойлової.

Росія не брала участі в цьогорічному «Євробаченні» після того, як Служба безпеки України заборонила в’їзд в Україну російській учасниці конкурсу Юлії Самойловій, яка незаконно відвідувала анексований Крим. У Міністерстві закордонних справ Росії висловили обурення цим рішенням.

Організатори конкурсу «Євробачення-2017» висловили розчарування рішенням України, та разом з тим вказали на необхідність поважати закони країни перебування.

Співачка Самойлова раніше виступала в окупованому Криму 27 червня 2015 року. Таким чином, співачка порушила постанову Кабінету міністрів України № 367 від 4 червня 2015 року, згідно з якою іноземці повинні мати спеціальний дозвіл для в’їзду на територію Криму.

Раніше Україна вже вживала заходів до російських артистів, які незаконно виступали в Криму.


Рада ЄС остаточно схвалить Угоду про асоціацію між Україною і Європейським союзом 11 липня, повідомляє у Twitter брюссельський кореспондент Радіо Свобода.

«Посли ЄС дали «зелене світло» Угоді про асоціацію з Україною. Міністри остаточно схвалять угоду 11 липня, і вона набуде чинності 1 вересня», – написав журналіст.

Минулого тижня президент Європейської ради Дональд Туск прогнозував, що робота над Угодою про асоціацію між Україною і Європейським союзом завершиться за кілька тижнів.

Майбутнє Угоди про асоціацію України і ЄС було в невизначеності після того, як у 2016 році в Нідерландах більшість учасників рекомендаційного референдуму (при цьому в референдумі взяли участь лише понад 32% виборців) висловилася проти угоди з Україною.

30 травня цього року Сенат Нідерландів підтримав ратифікацію Угоди про асоціацію України і ЄС.

 

 


Генеральний прокурор України Юрій Луценко прогнозує, що слідство щодо розстрілів на Майдані буде завершене до кінця року.

«Команда прокурорів і слідчих доповідає мені про готовність у четвертому кварталі цього року закінчити слідство у справі розстрілів на Майдані. Найтрагічніші сторінки 18, 19, 20, 21-о зараз знаходять свою юридичну оцінку в доопрацьованій підозрі. Це вже зроблено. І наступні кроки – у закінченнях експертиз і пред’явленні обвинувального акту. До четвертого кварталу ми зробимо і це, можливо, найважливіше для відновлення справедливості в нашій країні рішення», – сказав Луценко в інтерв’ю проекту Радіо Свобода «Настоящее время».

У лютому 2016 року суд об’єднав кримінальні провадження щодо колишніх працівників спецпідрозділу «Беркут» Олександра Маринченка, Сергія Тамтури, Олега Янішевського, обвинувачуваних у розстрілі 48 активістів Євромайдану, з провадженням щодо Сергія Зінченка і Павла Аброськіна, яких обвинувачували в убивстві 39 майданівців 20 лютого 2014 року на вулиці Інститутській. У травні 2016 року Святошинський суд розпочав розгляд по суті справи проти п’яти колишніх беркутівців. Їм інкримінують перевищення службових повноважень, незаконне поводження зі зброєю, умисне вбивство та заподіяння тілесних ушкоджень активістам Майдану. Колишні бійці спецпідрозділу «Беркут» не визнають власної вини за жодним із пунктів.

Усього, як повідомляв прокурор Генеральної прокуратури України Яніс Сімонов, вдалось ідентифікувати 25 правоохоронців, які стріляли на Інститутській. 20 із них зараз у розшуку.

За даними Генпрокуратури, всього під час Євромайдану потерпіли 2,5 тисячі людей, 104 з них загинули. Згодом загиблих учасників акцій протесту почали називати Небесною сотнею.

За даними Міністерства внутрішніх справ, від 18 лютого по 2 березня 2014 року під час виконання службових обов’язків у центрі Києва загинули також 17 силовиків.

 


It’s six o’clock in the evening, Saw Ku Do reviews his English lessons shortly after finishing an 11-hour shift serving food and sweeping the floor at the tea shop where he works.

“Dog, cat, pig,” he said while looking at his notebook.

Saw Ku Do, age 15, only has a second grade education. He dropped out of school to go to work to help support his family. He says his parents are day laborers and struggle to take care of their six children.

“It’s not that I didn’t want to stay in school but I felt sorry for my parents,” Saw Ku Do said. “When we are broke we have to borrow money and have to repay with interest so it’s very difficult.”

Saw Ku Do says he gets one day off every other week and makes the equivalent of about 60 U.S. dollars per month. He sends most of that money home to his parents who live in a village about eight hours away from Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial capital.

His story is a common one across Myanmar, also known as Burma, where more than a quarter of the population is impoverished. One out of five children ages 10 to 17 goes to work instead of school to help support their families. Many of them move away from small villages to work in tea shops in Myanmar’s cities. At night they often sleep on top of tables in their tea shops or on a piece of cardboard that’s spread out on the floor.

Child labor laws

Myanmar has laws prohibiting children under the age of 14 from working and until 16, they’re not allowed to work more than four-hours per day. However, enforcement is lax.

But while these kids often left the classroom years ago, there’s a program that’s bringing class to some of them.

It’s the Myanmar Mobile Education Project also known as myME. The program teaches subjects including math and English plus vocational training in fields such as hospitality and tailoring. Three nights a week, Saw Ku Do’s tea shop is converted into a makeshift classroom. “I hope to improve my education so I can have a better job,” he said.

The goal of myME is to help these tea shop workers get an education and skills so they’re not stuck in these low paying jobs for the rest of their lives. MyME trained Naw Aye Aye Naing, 20, to be a tailor. She now works at a boutique clothing store earning double what some tea shop workers make.

“MyME improved my life a lot,” she said.

The program’s executive director, Tim Aye-Hardy, is a Myanmar native who moved to the United States in 1989.

“When I came back to this country in 2012 and ‘13, I started to notice a bunch of young people who are on the streets at these tea shops, restaurants instead of in school. That’s what really triggered me,” Aye-Hardy said. “I started asking questions: Why are they not in school? Why are so many kids out there?”

Myanmar’s economy and education system were crippled during nearly 50 years of military rule. The country has been undergoing political and economic changes during the past several years.

Climbing out of poverty

MyME’s annual $200,000 budget comes from private donations. The program teaches about 500 workers at 35 tea shops across Myanmar. But that’s just a small fraction of the more than one-million child workers in this country.

“If we don’t help them they’ll never be able to climb out of this trap and then they might be so poor that their kids will also have to quit school to work just like they did,” Aye-Hardy said.

In Saw Ku Do’s English class, his teacher asks him what his favorite animal is. “It is a cat,” he replies.

Saw Ku Do dreams of owning his own business when he’s older. He says he and his coworkers feel lucky to be part of myME.

“If there’s no myME we will be stuck this way,” he said. “If we know more through myME we can get a new job.”