U.S. aircraft carrier joins South Korea drills

North Korea warns the United States of “merciless” attacks if the carrier infringes on its sovereignty or dignity during U.S.-South Korean drills. With the USS Carl Vinson ploughing through seas off South Korea, rival North Korea has warned the United States of “merciless” attacks if the carrier infringes on its sovereignty or dignity during US-South Korean drills. F-18 fighter jets took off from the flight deck of the nuclear-powered carrier in a dramatic display of US firepower amid rising tension with the North, which has alarmed its neighbours with two nuclear tests and a series of missile launches since last year. “While this is a routine deployment for the Carl Vinson strike group, really the centrepiece for us… is this exercise we’re doing with the ROK navy called ‘Foal Eagle’,” Rear Admiral James W. Kilby, commander of the Carrier Strike Group 1, said, referring to South Korea as the Republic of Korea.

California’s Oroville Dam disaster is a wake-up call

Nearly 200,000 people living below the tallest dam in the United States have been asked to evacuate as a spillway appeared to be close to collapse. Authorities issued the abrupt evacuation orders at about 00:30 GMT on Monday, saying that a crumbling emergency spillway on the Lake Oroville Dam could give way and unleash raging floodwaters onto a string of rural communities along the Feather River. Officials said the cities of Oroville, Gridley, Live Oak, Marysville, Wheat land, Yuba City, Plumas Lake, and Olivehurst were all under evacuation orders. 
Earlier, the California Department of Water Resources said on Facebook that the spillway of California’s Oroville Dam was “predicted to fail within the next hour”. But several hours later the situation appeared less dire as the spillway remained standing. The water resources department said crews using helicopters would drop rocks to fill a huge gouge in the spillway. Authorities were also releasing water to lower the lake’s level after weeks of heavy rains in the drought-plagued state. 
The Oroville  dam, which serves mainly for water supply, hydroelectricity generation and flood control, activated its emergency spillway after weeks of heavy rain caused the reservoir to rise above its capacity. At 230 metres high, the structure, built between 1962 and 1968, is the tallest dam in the US, higher than the famed Hoover Dam by more than 12 metres. 

Travelers arrive in US to hugs and tears after ban is lifted

Travelers from the seven predominantly Muslim countries targeted by President Donald Trump enjoyed tearful reunions with loved ones in the U.S. on Sunday after a federal judge swept the ban aside. Airlines around the world allowed people to board flights as usual to the United States. One lawyer waiting at New York’s Kennedy Airport said visa and green-card holders from Iraq and Iran were encountering no problems as they arrived. “It’s business as usual,” said Camille Mackler, of the New York Immigration Coalition. Fariba Tajrostami, a 32-year-old painter from Iran, came through the gate at Kennedy with a huge smile and tears in her eyes as her brothers greeted her with joyful hugs. “I’m very happy. I haven’t seen my brothers for nine years,” she said.

Violence returns to Ukraine

It may never be known who fired the first shot that has rekindled the conflict in eastern Ukraine. But the focus now must be on stopping the renewed fighting between separatists and Ukrainian troops in Avdiivka from spreading into a wider and more devastating battle. This is a small town that has maybe 22,000 inhabitants who find themselves on the frontline between the Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian army. The greater part of the town is still in government hands. Kiev says that the separatists began the firefight in which at least seven of its soldiers have been killed. The rebels say Ukrainian forces attacked them and they retaliated.
Whatever the truth, in the midst of ferociously cold winter weather the town’s electricity and water supply has been knocked out and, as ever, it is the civilians who are bearing the brunt of the suffering. The government says it is sending 10 tons of food and blankets as emergency aid, but this would hardly seem sufficient to assist an imperiled population.
What is significant is that the Russians did not use their veto to block a UN Security Council statement warning of a dangerous deterioration in Ukraine and calling for an immediate halt to the battle. Moscow may have a problem with the separatists, some of whom have been highly critical of what they see as a lack of support from Russia. Originally, there were high hopes among the rebels that Vladimir Putin would repeat his coup de main in the Crimea and carve out an autonomous region in Russian-speaking Ukraine. That indeed may have been the Kremlin’s original plan. But international sanctions have certainly hurt Russia, even though it has mounted an adroit campaign to circumvent them.

Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ comes into effect

President Trump’s order temporarily banning refugees arriving in the United States and barring those arriving from seven Muslim-majority countries caused confusion and panic among travelers, with some turned back from U.S.-bound flights

Trump Bans Citizens from 7 Muslim Nations and All Refugees

President Trump put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred visitors from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The Syrian refugee program, suspended until further notice, will eventually give priority to minority religious groups fleeing persecution. Trump said in an interview the exception would help Syrian Christians fleeing the civil war there.
Disgraceful”, “a travesty”, “racist”. These were some of the words used to describe a measure signed off by US President Donald Trump that suspends immigration from several Muslim-majority countries, and indefinitely bans Syrians – including refugees – from entering the United States. Closing off his first week in office, Trump signed the order on Friday at the Pentagon, saying the move would help protect Americans from “terrorist” attacks.
“Trump’s latest executive order is likely to hurt the people most in need: those fleeing violence and terrorism – and on Holocaust Remembrance Day, no less,” said Grace Meng, senior US researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The decision to drastically curtail the refugee programme will abandon tens of thousands to the risk of persecution or worse and cede American leadership on a vitally important issue.”

Walls of Shame : The US-Mexico Border Wall

The structures, fences and walls that mark the border between the United States and Mexico as President Donald Trump reiterates his promise to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

A border of more than 3,000km separates the US from Mexico – but it is defined not only by physical barriers made of concrete and steel but by an immigration policy which is failing to address the issues behind illegal migration. Although the US has spent billions of dollars on border enforcement, the lure of work sees illegal migrants enter the country at a rate of 850,000 a year.








The inauguration of Donald Trump

Images from the swearing-in of the 45th president of the United States.

Anti-Trump inauguration protests break out in U.S.

Donald Trump has been sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, while anti-Trump protesters clashed with police in the capital. The number of protests against and rallies for Trump taking place on Friday is far above what has been typical at recent US presidential inaugurations. In Washington DC, protesters were pepper-sprayed by police officers in sporadic clashes. About 28,000 security personnel, kilometres of fencing, street barricades, and trucks laden with sand were part of the security cordon around eight-square kilometres of central Washington for the ceremony.

Cuba mourning Castro

Cuban students waving flags broke into a mass chant of “I am Fidel” to salute Fidel Castro as nine days of mourning began for the Cold War icon, who dominated the island’s political life for generations. Alcohol sales were suspended, flags flew at half-staff and shows and concerts were cancelled after his younger brother and successor, President Raul Castro, told the country on Friday that Fidel had died at 10:29pm, without giving a cause of death. Giant rallies are planned in Havana’s Revolution Square and in the eastern city of Santiago to honour Castro, who died aged 90, six decades after the brothers set out from Mexico to overthrow the government of Fulgencio Batista.