Category: Світ

Senior Citizens and Children Brought Together by a Special

Helping children with homework, playing with toddlers, giving sage advice or just listening, the men and women you’re about to meet do what many grandparents do. The Foster Grandparent program has been using volunteers older than 55 to help children and youth in their communities for decades. The program helps 20,000 older people stay active and makes kids feel loved when their own grandparents can’t be near. Lesia Bakalets met with program members to learn more. Anna Rice narrates her story.

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Trump Sours on Mueller Report After Initial Upbeat View

President Donald Trump is lashing out at current and former aides who cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, insisting the deeply unflattering picture they painted of him and the White House was “total bullshit.”

In a series of angry tweets from Palm Beach, Florida, Trump laced into those who, under oath, had shared with Mueller their accounts of how Trump tried numerous times to squash or influence the investigation and portrayed the White House as infected by a culture of lies, deceit and deception.

 

“Statements are made about me by certain people in the Crazy Mueller Report, in itself written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters, which are fabricated & totally untrue,” Trump wrote Friday, adding that some were “total bullshit & only given to make the other person look good [or me to look bad].”

The attacks were a dramatic departure from the upbeat public face the White House had put on it just 24 hours earlier, when Trump celebrated the report’s findings as full exoneration and his counselor Kellyanne Conway called it “the best day” for Trump’s team since his election. While the president, according to people close to him, did feel vindicated by the report, he also felt betrayed by those who had painted him in an unflattering light — even though they were speaking under oath and had been directed by the White House to cooperate fully with Mueller’s team.

The reaction was not entirely surprising and had been something staffers feared in the days ahead of the report’s release as they wondered how Mueller might portray their testimony and whether the report might damage their relationships with Trump.

 

While Mueller found no criminal evidence that Trump or his campaign aides colluded in Russian election meddling and did not recommend obstruction charges against the president, the 448-page report released Thursday nonetheless paints a damaging picture of the president, describing numerous cases where he discouraged witnesses from cooperating with prosecutors and prodded aides to mislead the public on his behalf to hamper the Russia probe he feared would cripple his presidency.

The accounts prompted Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who has sometimes clashed with Trump, to release a statement saying he was “sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President.”

 

“Reading the report is a sobering revelation of how far we have strayed from the aspirations and principles of the founders,” he said.

 

The report concluded that one reason Trump managed to stay out of trouble was that his “efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful… largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

 

That didn’t spare those who defied Trump’s wishes from his wrath.

 

Trump appeared to be especially angry with former White House counsel Don McGahn, who sat with Mueller for about 30 hours of interviews, and is referenced numerous times in the report.

 

In one particularly vivid passage, Mueller recounts how Trump called McGahn twice at home and directed him to set in motion Mueller’s firing. McGahn recoiled, packed up his office and threatened to resign, fearing the move would trigger a potential crisis akin to the Saturday Night Massacre of firings during the Watergate era.

 

In another section, Mueller details how Trump questioned McGahn’s note-taking, telling the White House counsel that, “Lawyers don `t take notes” and that he’d “never had a lawyer who took notes.”

 

“Watch out for people that take so-called ‘notes,’ when the notes never existed until needed,” Trump said in one of his tweets Friday. Others whose contemporaneous notes were referenced in the report include former staff secretary Rob Porter and Reince Priebus, Trump’s first chief of staff.

 

Trump ended his tweet with the word, “a…” suggesting more was coming. More than eight hours later, he finally completed his thought, calling the probe a “big, fat, waste of time, energy and money” and threatening investigators by saying, “It is now finally time to turn the tables and bring justice to some very sick and dangerous people who have committed very serious crimes, perhaps even Spying or Treason.” There is no evidence of either.

 

Trump, who is in Florida for the Easter weekend, headed to his West Palm Beach golf club Friday after some early morning rain had cleared. There he played golf with conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh “and a couple friends,” according to the White House.

 

He’ll spend the rest of the weekend with family, friends and paying members of his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach.

 

As Trump hopped off the steps from Air Force One on Thursday evening, he was greeted by a throng of supporters, who clamored for autographs and selfies. He repeatedly told the crowd “thank you everybody” as they yelled encouragement.

 

Ari Fleischer, who served as White House press secretary to former President George W. Bush, said in an appearance on Fox News that he didn’t understand why Trump decided to send his tweets lashing out at former aides.

 

“I think it’s over,” he said. “If I were the president, I would have basically declared victory with the Mueller report and everything that came out and move beyond it.”

 

Still, he said he hoped the White House had learned some lessons.

 

“The president and his entire team needs to realize how close they came to being charged with obstruction,” Fleischer said. “Asking your staff to lie and engaging in some of the activities that the Mueller report stated the president engaged in is too close to obstruction. And that’s a lesson I hope everybody at the White House takes with them going forward.”

 

 

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Columbine High School Marks 20th Anniversary of Mass Shooting

Columbine High School is holding a memorial Saturday at a nearby park to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the mass shooting at the school that left 13 people dead.

 

The school, which is outside Denver, Colorado, has also organized a day of community service projects for current students on Saturday, the culmination of three days of commemorative events to remember the tragedy, which at the time was the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

 

The memorials began on Thursday night with a religious service, followed by a community vigil on Friday.

 

Former Columbine Principal Frank DeAngelis told survivors and families of the victims gathered at Waterstone Community Church on Thursday, “The most lasting tribute we can make to the 13 we remember tonight is to make the world a better place than what it was when they departed.”

 

Columbine survivor Patrick Ireland said, “Our innocence was stolen. How can that ever be repaid?”

 

Twenty years ago, on April 20, 1999, two heavily-armed students at Columbine went on a shooting rampage, killing 12 classmates and a teacher, and wounding more than 20 others, before turning their guns on themselves.

 

The mass shooting has earned a dangerous mythology, evidenced this week by a manhunt for a teenage woman allegedly obsessed with the 1999 shooting. The teenager traveled from her home in Florida to Colorado and immediately bought the same kind of weapon used by one of the Columbine shooters, prompting dozens of area schools to close. Authorities found the woman’s body on Wednesday in the mountains outside Denver, after she took her own life.

 

Columbine was the first major school shooting in the United States and it shocked the nation.

 

Nearly a dozen mass shootings have taken place at schools or universities since Columbine, including one at Virginia Tech in 2007 that left 32 people dead, and another at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 that killed 26 people, most of them children.

 

Columbine remained the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history until the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018 that left 17 dead.

 

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Nuremberg Prosecutor: No Justice Without Accountability, US Role Crucial

One of the lead U.S. prosecutors at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II, Benjamin B. Ferencz came to America from Transylvania as an infant in 1920.

“I was a poor immigrant boy,” he said recently at an event hosted by the embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Washington.

Ferencz won a scholarship to attend Harvard Law School and graduated in 1943. He then joined the U.S. Army and fought in “every campaign in Europe” under General George Patton, before assuming the duty of gathering Nazi war crime evidence for the U.S. military.

“I was a liberator to many concentration camps, it was my job to get in there fast before the records were destroyed,” Ferencz told an audience at the U.S. Library of Congress where he received the Anne Frank Award from the Dutch embassy, designed to honor human dignity and the spirit of tolerance.

In his acceptance speech, Ferencz expounded on the notion that there is no justice without accountability. He recalled the heroism of one inmate at a concentration camp who, in the role of the camp’s scribe, “at least 50 times he had taken his (own) life into his hands” to hide records of names of Nazi perpetrators, “knowing, or believing that there would be a day of reckoning and accountability.”

WATCH: Ben Ferencz: ‘Until We Have a Happier World for Everyone’

In an interview with VOA after the award ceremony in the halls of the Library of Congress, Ferencz said there needs to be an understanding that the aim of accountability could take a long time to achieve.

Recalling the critical leadership role the United States played in the World War II, including the postwar trials of Nazis at Nuremberg, in which Ferencz participated as a prosecutor, he said “I hope one day America will wake up and see the necessity for continuing our leadership toward a more humane and peaceful world.”

A barrister by training who reveres the institution and rule of law, Ferencz nonetheless expressed his faith in public discourse.

“The final court is the court of public opinion,” he said in the interview.

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Judge: Federal Land Coal Sales Need Review

A federal judge Friday ruled that the Trump administration failed to consider potential damage to the environment from its decision to resume coal sales from U.S. lands, but the court stopped short of halting future sales.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Montana said Interior Department officials had wrongly avoided an environmental review of their action by describing it “as a mere policy shift.” In so doing, officials ignored the environmental effects of selling huge volumes of coal from public lands, the judge said.

The ruling marks another in a string of judicial setbacks for President Donald Trump’s attempts to boost North American energy production.

A previous order from Morris blocked the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would transport crude from Canada’s oil sands. Other courts have issued rulings against the administration’s plans for oil and gas leasing and coal mining.

40% US coal from federal lands

More than 40% of U.S. coal is mined from federal lands, primarily in Western states. Companies have mined about 4 billion tons of coal from federal reserves in the past decade, contributing $10 billion to federal and state coffers through royalties and other payments.

The Obama administration imposed a moratorium on most federal coal sales in 2016. The move followed concerns that low royalty rates paid by mining companies were shortchanging taxpayers and that burning the fuel was making climate change worse.

Trump lifted the moratorium in March 2017 as part of his efforts to revitalize the slumping coal industry.

“The moratorium provided protections on public lands for more than 14 months,” Morris said in Friday’s 34-page order. He added that lifting the moratorium was a “major federal action” sufficient to trigger requirements for a detailed analysis of its environmental impacts.

Consider the consequences

Morris ordered government attorneys to enter negotiations with states, tribal officials and environmental groups in order to determine the next steps in the case.

“The court held clearly that the Trump administration needs to rationally consider the consequences of its decision. Those include dire impacts to clean water, public health and our climate,” said Earthjustice attorney Jenny Harbine, who represents environmental groups and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, which had sued to stop the lease sales.

The attorneys general of California, New Mexico, New York and Washington, all Democrats, also had sued over the resumption of the federal coal lease program. They said it should not have been revived without studying what’s best for the environment and for taxpayers.

Representatives of the Interior Department did not immediately respond to emailed and telephone requests for comment.

Utah coal leases

In February, Interior officials had announced a sale of coal leases on public lands in Utah by issuing a statement headlined “The War on Coal is Over.” They said the sale would not have been possible if the administration had not overturned the moratorium.

The department’s Bureau of Land Management administers about 300 coal leases in 10 states. Most of that coal, 85%, comes from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana. Other states with significant federal coal reserves include Colorado and New Mexico.

Production and combustion of coal from federal lands accounted for about 11% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2014.

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Judge: Federal Land Coal Sales Need Review

A federal judge Friday ruled that the Trump administration failed to consider potential damage to the environment from its decision to resume coal sales from U.S. lands, but the court stopped short of halting future sales.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Montana said Interior Department officials had wrongly avoided an environmental review of their action by describing it “as a mere policy shift.” In so doing, officials ignored the environmental effects of selling huge volumes of coal from public lands, the judge said.

The ruling marks another in a string of judicial setbacks for President Donald Trump’s attempts to boost North American energy production.

A previous order from Morris blocked the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would transport crude from Canada’s oil sands. Other courts have issued rulings against the administration’s plans for oil and gas leasing and coal mining.

40% US coal from federal lands

More than 40% of U.S. coal is mined from federal lands, primarily in Western states. Companies have mined about 4 billion tons of coal from federal reserves in the past decade, contributing $10 billion to federal and state coffers through royalties and other payments.

The Obama administration imposed a moratorium on most federal coal sales in 2016. The move followed concerns that low royalty rates paid by mining companies were shortchanging taxpayers and that burning the fuel was making climate change worse.

Trump lifted the moratorium in March 2017 as part of his efforts to revitalize the slumping coal industry.

“The moratorium provided protections on public lands for more than 14 months,” Morris said in Friday’s 34-page order. He added that lifting the moratorium was a “major federal action” sufficient to trigger requirements for a detailed analysis of its environmental impacts.

Consider the consequences

Morris ordered government attorneys to enter negotiations with states, tribal officials and environmental groups in order to determine the next steps in the case.

“The court held clearly that the Trump administration needs to rationally consider the consequences of its decision. Those include dire impacts to clean water, public health and our climate,” said Earthjustice attorney Jenny Harbine, who represents environmental groups and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, which had sued to stop the lease sales.

The attorneys general of California, New Mexico, New York and Washington, all Democrats, also had sued over the resumption of the federal coal lease program. They said it should not have been revived without studying what’s best for the environment and for taxpayers.

Representatives of the Interior Department did not immediately respond to emailed and telephone requests for comment.

Utah coal leases

In February, Interior officials had announced a sale of coal leases on public lands in Utah by issuing a statement headlined “The War on Coal is Over.” They said the sale would not have been possible if the administration had not overturned the moratorium.

The department’s Bureau of Land Management administers about 300 coal leases in 10 states. Most of that coal, 85%, comes from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana. Other states with significant federal coal reserves include Colorado and New Mexico.

Production and combustion of coal from federal lands accounted for about 11% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2014.

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California Parents Who Shackled Kids Get Life Terms

A California couple who for years starved a dozen of their children and kept some shackled to beds were sentenced Friday to life in prison, ending a shocking case that revealed a house of horrors hidden behind a veneer of suburban normalcy. 

 

The conditions inside David and Louise Turpin’s home in suburban Los Angeles came to light only after one of their daughters fled and begged a 911 operator for help. The parents pleaded guilty in February of neglect and abuse. 

 

The sentencing was preceded by the first public statements from some of the children, who alternately spoke of love for their parents and of what they had suffered, as the couple wiped away tears. None of the children was publicly identified. 

 

One of the adult children walked into court already in tears, holding hands with a prosecutor. 

‘They almost changed me’

 

“Life may have been bad, but it made me strong. I fought to become the person that I am. I saw my dad change my mom. They almost changed me, but I realized what was happening. … I’m a fighter. I’m strong and I’m shooting through life like a rocket,” a daughter said.  

The Turpins will be eligible for parole after 25 years. 

 

“I’m sorry for everything I’ve done to hurt my children. I love my children so much,” Louise Turpin said. 

 

One of the children asked for a lighter sentence for the parents because “they believed everything they did was to protect us.” 

 

The home in a middle-class section of Perris, a small city about 60 miles (96 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles, appeared to be neatly kept, and neighbors rarely saw the kids outside, but nothing triggered suspicion. 

 

But when deputies arrived, they were shocked to find a 22-year-old son chained to a bed and two girls who had just been set free from shackles. Most of the 13 children — who ranged in age from 2 to 29 — were severely underweight and had not bathed for months. The house was covered in filth and was filled with the stench of human waste. 

 

The children said they were beaten, caged and shackled if they did not obey their parents. 

 

David Turpin, 57, had been an engineer for Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Louise Turpin, 50, was listed as a housewife in a 2011 bankruptcy filing. 

Limited knowledge

 

The teenage daughter escaped by jumping from a window. After a lifetime in isolation, the 17-year-old did not know her address, the month or the year, or what the word “medication” meant. 

 

But she knew enough to punch 911 into a barely workable cellphone and began describing years of horrific abuse to a police dispatcher. 

 

Deputies testified that the children said they were allowed to shower only once a year. They were mainly kept in their rooms except for meals, which had been reduced from three to one per day, a combination of lunch and dinner. The 17-year-old complained that she could no longer stomach peanut butter sandwiches — they made her gag.  

The children were not allowed to play like normal children. Other than an occasional family trip to Las Vegas or Disneyland, they rarely left home. They slept during the day and were active a few hours at night. 

 

Although the couple filed paperwork with the state to home-school their children, learning was limited. The oldest daughter had completed only the third grade. 

 

“We don’t really do school. I haven’t finished first grade,” the 17-year-old said, according to Deputy Manuel Campos. 

 

Investigators found that the couple’s toddler had not been abused, but all of the children were hospitalized.

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US Federal Space for Holding Migrant Families Mostly Unused

President Donald Trump has warned that Central American families are staging an “invasion” at the U.S.-Mexico border. He has threatened to take migrants to Democratic strongholds to punish political opponents. And his administration regularly complains about having to “catch and release” migrants.

At the same time, his administration has stopped using one of three family detention centers to hold parents and children and left almost 2,000 beds unused at the other two. It says it does not have the resources to transport migrants to the centers.

Immigrant advocates accuse the administration of closing off family detention to further the perception of a crisis.

The Karnes County Residential Center in Texas used to hold up to 800 parents and children at a time, who would usually be detained before an initial screening to judge whether they qualified for asylum.

But ICE last month started to release families until they were all gone from Karnes. Advocates who work there say ICE is now restricting legal access to the roughly 400 adult women being detained there.

The population at the family detention center in nearby Dilley, Texas, was also reduced and remains at roughly a quarter of its 2,400-person capacity. A 96-person facility in Pennsylvania had only 18 immigrants this week.

Meanwhile, the numbers of parents and children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border have surged, leading immigration officials to declare the situation a crisis. More than 50,000 parents and children were apprehended by the Border Patrol in March, setting a monthly record.

The number of border crossings in one day sometimes exceeds ICE’s total family detention space.

More than 4,800 people crossed the border in a single day this week. Almost 1,000 were traveling in three large groups, the largest of which was 375 people, Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, said Wednesday.

The Border Patrol has stopped referring many families to ICE and instead releases them directly to nonprofit groups or drops them off at bus stations.

In a statement, ICE said the surge left it “overwhelmed” and unable to transport families from the border to the Karnes and Dilley facilities, even if both detention centers had available beds. As of Wednesday, 427 women were in custody at Karnes.

“As such, ICE has determined that, at this time, Karnes will better meet operational needs by also serving partially as an adult detention facility,” the agency said.

Immigrant advocates say they do not believe that ICE cannot transport people to the facilities. They say the government has reduced family detention space for political reasons _ to show that Democrats’ refusal to change laws to allow for longer family detention and more deportations has left officials with no choice but to catch and release.

“We believe that this is part of trying to justify a narrative,” said Peter Schey, executive director of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law. “Trump’s policies have swung from one extreme to the other. There’s no consistency; there’s no strategic planning.”

The legal services group RAICES goes to Karnes daily to consult with detained immigrants about their asylum cases. The group says subtle policy changes at the facility have reduced legal access for detained women seeking asylum.

Since Monday, authorities at Karnes have prevented attorneys and volunteers from meeting with many large groups of migrants at once, which prevents them from quickly consulting with more people, according to Andrea Meza, RAICES’ director of family detention services.

Karnes staff also stopped sending RAICES the names of detainees who put their names on sign-up sheets outside the visitation room, Meza said.

Meza said she received conflicting explanations from ICE for the changes, including that there were complaints by staff from the private contractor GEO Group, which operates Karnes.

ICE confirmed it had reduced group meetings at Karnes because “more residents are represented by private attorneys.” The agency said it provided 12 hours of legal visitation at Karnes every day, more than its detention standards require.

If the changes remain in place, fewer people will be able to consult with a lawyer before asylum interviews, Meza said, and it will be harder for the group to follow up with potential asylum seekers.

“We don’t know what’s happening to people after their interviews,” she said.

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