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Mattis Defends Mexico Border Deployment in First Troop Visit

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis defended the deployment of thousands of troops to the border with Mexico as he traveled there on Wednesday, saying the mission was “absolutely legal” and justified, and that it was improving military readiness.

President Donald Trump’s politically charged decision to send U.S. troops to the Mexico border came ahead of U.S. midterm congressional elections last week, as Trump sought to strengthen border security as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration.

Trump’s supporters, including Republicans in Congress, have embraced the deployment.

But critics have assailed the decision, calling it a political stunt to drive Republican voters to the polls. They have scoffed at Trump’s comparison of caravans of Central American migrants, including women and children, to an “invasion.”

Mattis, speaking to a small group of reporters traveling with him, rejected criticism and said the deployment was the right thing to do.

“It’s very clear that support to border police or border patrol is necessary right now,” Mattis said, noting that that was the assessment of the Department of Homeland Security.

He added the deployment was deemed legal by Trump administration attorneys and was improving readiness by giving troops more experience in rapid deployment.

The visit took Mattis near the Texas town of Donna, where U.S. troops have set up a base camp near a border crossing point with Mexico. General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the head of U.S. Northern Command, greeted him as he landed.

Mattis said U.S. soldiers were making rapid progress erecting barriers along the border and estimated the first, construction phase of the U.S. military effort could be completed within 10 days.

“I would anticipate with what we’ve been asked to do so far, probably within a week to 10 days, we’ll have done what’s needed,” Mattis told the reporters. “Of course, it will be a dynamic situation and there will be new requests coming in.”

Mattis said the U.S. military was also rehearsing helicopter operations to help support U.S. border personnel, potentially flying them to new locations if the caravans of migrants shift direction.

The deployed U.S. troops are not expected to directly interact with migrants, most are unarmed, and they are only assigned tasks that support U.S. border personnel, including building temporary lodging.

Scrutiny From Congress

Trump’s Democratic opponents have threatened to investigate the matter once they take control of the House of Representatives early next year after gaining a majority in the House in the midterm elections.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Homeland Security, told Reuters that Trump had used the military “as a prop to stoke fear and score political points.”

“We will soon be finally able to conduct oversight of this gross abuse and the President’s many failed border security policies,” said Thompson, who is expected to lead the committee when the Democrats take control of the House

It is unclear how long the deployment will last. Mattis initially authorized it through mid-December but it could be extended.

Mattis estimated about 5,900 troops were participating in the border mission. The U.S. military has offered a breakdown accounting for 5,600 of them, estimating about 2,800 troops in Texas, 1,500 in Arizona and another 1,300 in California.

Asked whether troops’ families should expect their loved ones to remain deployed through Thanksgiving or even Christmas, Mattis declined to speculate.

“We are a 365-day-a-year military. Rain or Shine. Light or dark. Cold weather or hot weather,” he said, declining to estimate costs of the deployment until he had better data.

Trump railed against illegal immigration to win the 2016 presidential election and has shown no signs of easing up on the issue in the wake of last week’s vote.

Last week, he effectively suspended the granting of asylum to migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, seeking fresh ways to block thousands of Central Americans traveling in caravans from entering the United States.

Mattis compared the mission to other deployments in the past, largely comprised of U.S. National Guard, during Democratic and Republican administrations.

“We determined that the mission was absolutely legal and this was also reviewed by Department of Justice lawyers. It’s obviously a moral and ethical mission to support our border patrolmen,” Mattis said.

“There’s nothing new under the sun.”

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2 US Senators to Defy Republican Leader on Mueller Protections

Two U.S. senators, defying opposition from top Republicans, vowed on Wednesday to push for action on a bipartisan measure that would protect a federal investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake and Democratic Senator Chris Coons said they would take to the Senate floor at around 4:15 p.m. EST, to ask for their colleagues’ consent to allow a vote that could anger President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly dismissed the federal probe as a “witch hunt.”

But the move was unlikely to succeed. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is firmly against the idea of voting on a measure to protect the investigation, according to an aide.

Another party leader, Senate Republican whip John Cornyn, has said he favors an alternative measure that would simply put the Senate on record as backing the leader of the probe, Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The effort by Flake and Coons comes a week after Trump set off alarm bells among Democrats and some Republicans by forcing the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replacing him with Sessions’ former chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, a Trump loyalist who has criticized the  investigation.

Critics of the appointment say Whitaker could fire Mueller or undermine the investigation in some other way.

Flake, who is retiring from the Senate, and Coons want lawmakers to vote on a measure known as the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, which would ensure that Mueller could be fired only for good cause and provide him with recourse to challenge any  dismissal in federal court.

The legislation, which the Senate Judiciary Committee approved in a 14-7 vote in April, is supported by the panel’s chairman Chuck Grassley and another prominent Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham.

Democrats have called on Whitaker to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation. The Justice Department said on Monday night Whitaker would consult with ethics officials about any matters that could require him to recuse himself.

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Democrats Gaining as More US Votes Are Counted

U.S. vote counting is still going on, eight days after national congressional elections, with Democrats opposed to President Donald Trump gaining new ground with the latest results.

The day after the November 6 election, Trump said at the White House, “It was a big day yesterday. The Republican Party defied history to expand our Senate majority while significantly beating expectations in the House.

“It was very close to a complete victory,” he boasted.

As the results rolled in on election night, it appeared that Republicans might add three or four seats to their 51-49 Senate majority. But a Republican lead for a contest in the southwestern state of Arizona collapsed, giving Democrat Kyrsten Sinema a seat that been held by Republicans for three decades.

Now, with two Senate races yet to be decided in the southern states of Florida and Mississippi, Republicans at most will add two seats to their majority.

In the House of Representatives, Democratic candidates are faring even better.

Democrats reclaimed the House majority for the first time in eight years in the election night vote counting, and now have a 225-200 edge. But Democrats appear poised to add to their majority in the new Congress come January, leading in seven of the 10 undecided races where absentee and mail-in ballots are being counted, all in districts held by Republicans in the current Congress.

Ascendant Democratic leaders in the House have immediately vowed to hold investigations of Trump’s business connections with the government he oversees, examine his tax returns that he has refused to release, and call on Trump officials to justify government policies they have adopted in the nearly two years since Trump took office. While they have been in control of both chambers of Congress, Republican lawmakers rarely held hearings on Trump policies that presented the possibility of embarrassing the Republican president and his administration.

Trump is calling the nascent Democratic investigations “Presidential Harassment,” and said the prospective probes have given a headache to national stock exchanges this week, leading to stock price losses.

Races for governorships in Georgia and Florida remain undecided amid late vote-counting and recounts, as is the key Senate race in Florida, where Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, is holding on to a 12,500-vote edge over the incumbent Democrat, Senator Bill Nelson. In the Florida race, local election officials are under a Thursday deadline to complete their recount of votes. The Mississippi Senate race is headed to a runoff election on November 27.

In the Florida contest, Scott and Nelson have filed competing lawsuits on various aspects of the vote counting, but the state agency overseeing elections has rejected claims by Scott and Trump there was fraud in the election. Despite the uncertainty of the outcome, Scott attended meetings in Washington for new lawmakers.

Trump has provided a running commentary on the Florida contest, at one point suggesting that Scott, along with Congressman Ron DeSantis, the Republican candidate looking to succeed him as governor, ought to be declared the winners because they were ahead in the initial vote counting on election night.

“When will Bill Nelson concede in Florida?” Trump said on Twitter. “The characters running Broward and Palm Beach voting will not be able to ‘find’ enough votes, too much spotlight on them now!” Trump was referring to two Democratic strongholds along the Atlantic Ocean shoreline where Nelson, as more votes are counted, has cut into Scott’s lead.  

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Метеорологічна зима почалася в Києві на місяць раніше, ніж минулого року – обсерваторія

До Києва прийшла метеорологічна зима. Про це повідомили у Центральній геофізичній обсерваторії імені Бориса Срезневського.

«13 листопада середньодобова температура повітря на метеостанції обсерваторії становила -3 градуси і за прогнозами Українського гідрометцентру від’ємні значення температури повітря будуть триматись і далі. Стійке зниження середньодобової температури нижче нуля свідчить про початок метеорологічної зими, яка в цьому році прийшла до столиці більше ніж на місяць раніше торішньої, адже тоді вона розпочалась 18 грудня», – розповіли у обсерваторії.

Метеорологи зазначили, що нинішня зима на два тижні випередила і кліматичну норму.

«Найраніше до Києва зима завітала 20 жовтня у 1920 році, а найпізніше – 29 грудня у 2015 році», – зазначили спеціалісти.

Державна служба України з надзвичайних ситуацій 13 листопада попередила, що синоптики з 14 листопада прогнозують утворення снігового покриву до шести сантиметрів у центральній частині України, зокрема, на Київщині та в столиці.

Сніг у Києві розпочався близько 9:00 14 листопада.

Більше цікавих новин, які не потрапили на сайт, – у Telegram-каналі Радіо Свобода. Долучайтеся!

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МОЗ: майже 1,3 мільйона людей в Україні мають діабет

Майже 1,3 мільйона українців мають діабет, повідомляє Міністерство охорони здоров’я 14 листопада, у Світовий день боротьби з діабетом.

«Ці показники щороку зростають. Більшість цих випадків – діабет ІІ типу», – пише МОЗ.

За даними медиків, у 80% випадків діабету ІІ-го типу можна запобігти, якщо вести здоровий спосіб життя.

Ще 196 тисяч українців мають діабет І типу, що потребує щоденної інсулінотерапії. Як повідомляє Мінохорони здоров’я, нині усі пацієнти отримують потрібний їм інсулін безкоштовно або з невеликою доплатою – у аптеці за рецептом лікаря. Дві третини відшкодування вартості інсулінів відбувається коштом державного бюджету, решта — має дофінансовуватись з місцевого.

Сьогодні стартувала річна кампанія діабетичної просвіти під назвою «Діабет стосується кожної сім’ї».

14 листопада у світі відзначають День боротьби з цукровим діабетом. Понад 425 мільйонів людей у світі мають такий діагноз.

Діабет – це хронічне захворювання, при якому підшлункова залоза не виробляє достатньої кількості інсуліну (діабет І типу) або ж організм не може ефективно використовувати вироблений інсулін (діабет ІІ типу). Інсулін – це гормон, який регулює рівень цукру (глюкози) у крові.

Більше цікавих новин, які не потрапили на сайт, – у Telegram-каналі Радіо Свобода. Долучайтеся!

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Stung by Election Losses, House GOP Weighs Leadership Choice

Frustration, finger-pointing and questions spilled over a closed-door meeting of House Republicans Tuesday night as lawmakers sorted through an election defeat that cost them the majority and began considering new leadership for their shrunken minority.

Republicans complained about the unpopularity of the GOP tax law they blamed for losses in New York and other key states, some attendees told reporters after the meeting. Some in the meeting said Republicans should have tried harder to fulfill President Donald Trump’s priorities, like funding for the border wall with Mexico. They also warned that they need a new fundraising mechanism to compete with the small-dollar online donors that powered Democrats to victory.

“There’s a little rawness still,” Rep. Mark Walker, R-S.C., who is running unopposed for a down-ballot position as vice chair of the GOP conference, told reporters outside the meeting room. “But there’s an opportunity for us to come together and get single-focused on the message.”

With the speaker’s gavel now out of reach, GOP Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Trump ally, is poised to take over as minority leader. But the Californian has struggled in the past to build support from conservatives. He faces a longshot challenge from Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus who has support from outside conservative groups and got a second-look during a nearly two-hour candidate forum Tuesday.

Trump has stayed largely on the sidelines ahead of closed-door elections Wednesday that will determine party leadership not only for House Republicans, but also for Senate Democrats and Republicans, and set the tone for the new Congress. Voting for the biggest race, Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s bid to return as the Democrats’ nominee for speaker, is later this month.

Jordan told reporters that he made a pitch to his colleagues at a sometimes-tense session in the Capitol basement based on three questions: “Why’d we lose, how do we get it back and what we’re up against.”

The former college wrestling champ said he told Republicans they need a fighter to confront Pelosi and her new majority.

“I think we’re entering a world we haven’t really seen,” he said, rattling off the names of the Democratic chairmen who are poised to investigate Trump. “It’s going to take an attitude and an intensity about standing up for the truth and fighting.”

Most GOP lawmakers, though, prefer McCarthy’s more affable approach, and he remained favored to win Wednesday. Accompanied by his wife, McCarthy entered the meeting room, telling reporters, “We’ve got a plan.”

GOP Whip Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Republican who was gravely wounded in last year’s congressional baseball practice shooting and is running unopposed for another term in leadership, said McCarthy “knows what he needs to do” to win over his colleagues – and win back the majority – and is well-positioned to do both.

“You always look in the mirror and see what you can do better,” Scalise said as he entered the room. Republicans, he said, “need to do a better job of letting people know what we stand for.”

Rounding out the GOP leadership team will be Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who wants to bring a more aggressive stance to the GOP’s communications and messaging strategy in the No. 3 spot.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to win another term, but the most interesting race is for the No. 5 spot, where Republicans are poised to elect their first woman to leadership in almost a decade, as they try to smooth the optics of a GOP side that’s dominated by men.

Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer has made a bid for that spot “to help bring our party’s big tent together.” She faces GOP Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa.

The rest of the GOP line-up is expected to shuffle slightly. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the GOP whip, is being forced out by term limits. That allows Sen. John Thune of South Dakota to move up to the No. 2 spot. Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming and Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri take over the third- and fourth-ranking spots.

Senate Democrats are keeping their team headed by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, even though one of the two new Democratic senators-elect, Krysten Sinema of Arizona, has said she wouldn’t vote for him.

Newly elected Republicans will cast their first votes during closed-door meetings Wednesday even before they’re sworn into office as part of the new Congress in January.

Dan Meuser, a new Republican from Pennsylvania, said he’s talked with both McCarthy and Jordan in recent days about their plans for the new minority and has been giving his vote “a lot of thought.”

“I would say I have not made a decision yet,” said Meuser at freshman orientation. He said he’s “gotten close with Kevin McCarthy. I think very highly of him. I think he’s a very good conservative, he’s showed a lot of leadership. He’s certainly earned the position. On the same note, I think Jim Jordan’s a smart, tough, focused individual. So I respect him as well. So, yeah, we’ll see.”

And some just want to avoid more infighting as Republicans return to the minority for the first time in eight years.

“Whoever loses needs to get behind whoever wins,” said Rep. Steve Palazzo, R-Miss.

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US Senator Graham Says Supports Mueller Bill, Urges Vote

Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said on Tuesday he supported a bill that would protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from any politically motivated firings and would urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow a vote on it.

“I would certainly vote for it,” Graham told reporters of the bill, which he supported when it passed the Senate Judiciary in April.

“I don’t see any movement to get rid of Mueller. But it probably would be good to have this legislation in place just for the future,” he said.

McConnell told reporters in Kentucky last week he did not think legislation was necessary because he did not think Mueller was in danger.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said he also supported the bill but would not lobby McConnell to allow the measure to move forward.

“Every bill that comes out of my committee, I’d like to see a vote. But whether it comes up will be up to the leader and I’m not going to lobby the leader,” Grassley told reporters on Tuesday. “If it comes up, I’ll vote on it. And I think it ought to pass.”

Trump last week forced out Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general in charge of overseeing Mueller and his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign.

Whitaker has described Mueller’s probe as being too wide-ranging. Trump denies that he or his associates colluded with Russia, and Moscow says it did not interfere in the election.

Graham, who said last year that there would be “holy hell to pay” if Sessions was fired, predicted that Trump would move to oust Sessions after the midterms and appoint someone with whom he had a better relationship.

Democrats and some Republicans worry Trump’s firing of Sessions means he is maneuvering to fire or significantly restrain the special counsel.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who is retiring, and Democratic Senator Chris Coons have pledged to seek a floor vote on a bill to shield Mueller as soon as Congress resumed this week after a recess for the Nov. 6 elections.

The Justice Department said on Monday night that Whitaker would consult with ethics officials about any matters that could require him to recuse himself.

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Trumps to Skip Kennedy Center Honors for 2nd Straight Year

For the second straight year, President Donald Trump will not be attending the Kennedy Center Honors celebrating cultural achievement.

 

Neither Trump nor first lady Melania Trump will be at the Dec. 2 event, Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s director of communications, said Tuesday.

 

Grisham also told The Associated Press it was “not likely” any new winners of the National Medal of Arts, National Humanities Medal or National Medal of Science would be announced before the end of the year. She said the remaining weeks of 2018 are “the busiest time of the year for the East Wing.”

 

Tuesday’s announcements continue the Trump administration’s unprecedented distance from the arts and science communities. No arts or humanities medals have been announced or handed out since September 2016, when Barack Obama was president — the longest gap by months since the awards were established in the mid-1980s. No science medals have been given since May 2016.

A former head of the National Endowment for the Arts, which oversees the nominating process for the arts medal, said he was dismayed.

 

“The current administration’s disregard for culture and scholarship, as well as presidential tradition, is an embarrassment,” Dana Gioia, chairman of the NEA from 2003 to 2009, told the AP.

Other presidents, including Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, have missed Kennedy Center ceremonies. Trump is the first to miss them twice.

 

Grisham cited scheduling conflicts: Trump is scheduled to attend the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of the month. Had he come to the Kennedy Center, it’s unlikely he would have been warmly welcomed by at least some of the honorees, who include Cher and “Hamilton” playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, both sharp critics.

 

Last year, honoree Norman Lear said he would boycott the event if Trump was there. The White House then announced the president and first lady would not be going “to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”

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У Києві встановлять 3D-моделі історичних пам’яток для людей із вадами зору

2019 року з’явиться 3D-модель Софійського собору на п’єдесталі з білого мармуру і табличками з текстом Брайля й описом об’єкту

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Тренери збірної України назвали склад на перший етап Кубка світу з біатлону

Тренерські штаби чоловічої та жіночої команд України назвали склади для участі в першому етапі Кубка світу, який із 2 до 9 грудня прийме словенська Поклюка. Про це 13 листопада повідомляє телеканал XSport.

Жіноча команда складатиметься з олімпійських чемпіонок Юлії Джими, Віти Семеренко, Валентини Семеренко, Олени Підгрушної, до яких приєдналися Анастасія Меркушина та Юлія Журавок.

Серед чоловіків змагатимуться Дмитро Підручний, Артем Прима, Сергій Семенов, Артем Тищенко, Віталій Кільчицький.

Програма етапу в Поклюці, який відкриває сезон, є ширшою, ніж зазвичай на етапах кубка світу. У ній є одразу п’ять видів гонок: одиночна і класична змішані естафети, індивідуальні гонки, спринти і гонки переслідування. Саме тому тренери обох команд вирішили включити в склад на одну людину більше, ніж це передбачає квота збірної на деякі види гонок. У цьому сезоні в гонці з роздільним стартом збірна України має право виставляти чотирьох чоловіків і п’ять жінок.

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