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United States Will Welcome Up to 100,000 Ukrainian Refugees

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With European nations under stress from three million new refugees, the United States said it would substantially increase admissions of people fleeing Russia’s invasion.
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Miriam JordanZolan Kanno-Youngs and
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BRUSSELS — Bowing to domestic and international pressure, President Biden said on Thursday the United States would accept up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine and donate $1 billion to help European countries facing a humanitarian crisis not seen on the continent since the end of World War II.

The announcement came as countries scrambling to house and provide services to millions of Ukrainian refugees have sought assistance from the United States, which is already absorbing thousands of people evacuated from Afghanistan.
“This is not something that Poland or Romania or Germany should carry on their own,” Mr. Biden said during a news briefing in Brussels. “This is an international responsibility.”
The war in Ukraine has displaced millions of people in a matter of weeks as Russian forces bombard cities and towns, leaving much of the country without power, heat and water. Mr. Biden’s announcement significantly increases the role of the United States in trying to mitigate the crisis.

U.S. officials have repeatedly said they expected that most Ukrainian refugees would want to stay in Europe, close to their homes and adult male family members, who have been prohibited from leaving the country. So far, some three million Ukrainians have fled their homeland. But millions more have been internally displaced and may also need to find safe haven in other countries.

White House officials said that the refugees would be received through “the full range of legal pathways,” including the U.S. refugee admissions program, which leads to permanent residence, or a green card. Others may be granted visas or “humanitarian parole,” a temporary form of entry offered to displaced people in wartime and other emergencies.

The initiative would focus on Ukrainians who have family members in the United States. However, the United States is not considering airlifting Ukrainians into the country, as it did during the military withdrawal from Afghanistan, White House officials said.

Mr. Biden’s announcement won praise from some immigration advocates, as well as Ukrainians still in Europe seeking refuge. Oleksandr Berezhnyi, a 32-year-old stuck in Bucha, Ukraine, hoped it would increase the chances for his pregnant wife and 4-year-old daughter to resettle in the United States. They fled to Slovakia weeks ago and have family in New Jersey.
“There is nothing left for them other than now looking at this new program,” Mr. Berenzhnyi said through a translator in a phone interview on Thursday.

But welcoming thousands of new refugees when the administration is still struggling to process tens of thousands of Afghans through an underresourced immigration system will not be easy. Deciding how many vulnerable immigrants — and from which countries — the United States should accept has been a constant political struggle for Mr. Biden, particularly at the southwest border, where officials have encountered more than 13,000 migrants a day in recent weeks, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.

While there is mostly bipartisan support for welcoming Afghan and Ukrainian refugees escaping war, migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border fleeing poverty and violence have received far less sympathy. And many Republicans criticized efforts to welcome nearly 21,000 refugees from Syria from 2015 through 2018.

“Without a doubt, we need to resettle large numbers of Ukrainians through various means, but I hope our commitment to Ukrainians also deepens our commitment to other groups of refugees who are in need of protection,” said Jenny Yang, vice president of advocacy and policy at World Relief, one of the nonprofits contracted by the government to help resettle refugees.
About 75,000 Afghans have been brought in through the humanitarian parole program. But many of them have struggled to navigate an immigration system that U.S. officials concede was unprepared to help them. They contend with years of interviews and red tape, and while they have been granted work authorization, they cannot apply for a green card or bring in spouses or children left behind. Thousands remain parked in a handful of American-run processing centers overseas, waiting to come to the United States.

“Right now Ukraine’s people can go freely to European countries, but where do we flee?” said Najeeb, a former interpreter for U.S. forces for five years who preferred to go by his first name for fear of retribution.

Some refugee experts also feared that the administration would not have an efficient long-term plan for the Ukrainian families who are allowed into the United States. Even when the refugee resettlement system is working smoothly, it is not designed to provide immediate relief during emergencies. It takes several years for people to be admitted, a process that requires interviews, medical exams and background checks.

It also takes many years for family members sponsored by green card holders or American citizens to be approved.

But with the devastation being wrought on Ukraine under the Russian bombardment, it is unlikely that many of those seeking refuge in the United States would be able to return home anytime soon.

Some Ukrainians may be offered humanitarian parole, like the Afghan evacuees. But that does not open a direct path to legal residency, since it is intended for temporary stays. In order to stay permanently, those refugees would have to apply for asylum, which involves navigating a system that is badly overstretched already.

A new phase of the war. Russia declared that its offensive for control over Ukraine’s industrial heartland was underway as it bombarded targets across the sprawling eastern front. Ukrainian officials said they were mounting a spirited defense.

In Mariupol. About 2,000 people were trapped at a large steel factory in Mariupol along with Ukrainian forces that are waging what appears to be the last defense of the city. Russia is seeking to take the city as part of a strategically important “land bridge” to occupied Crimea.
Possible banned weapons. Based on evidence reviewed by The Times, it is likely that Ukrainian troops used cluster munitions in an eastern village that they were attempting to retake from Russian forces. The weapons are banned by many countries for the harm they can cause to civilians.

Russia’s economy. While President Vladimir V. Putin boasted that the Russian economy is holding up under Western sanctions, his central bank chief warned that the consequences were only beginning to be felt, and Moscow’s mayor said that 200,000 jobs are at risk in the capital alone.

“We welcome the administration’s announcement, but we hope the United States commits to admitting Ukrainians in a permanent legal status so that they regain some control over their lives,” said Melanie Nezer, a senior vice president at HIAS, another resettlement agency.
“By definition, we are talking about many people with family and support networks here,” she said.

The United States is home to about a million people of Ukrainian descent, with substantial communities in New York, Pennsylvania, California and Washington State. Thousands are evangelical Christians who began arriving in the 1990s, after Congress passed a law allowing persecuted religious minorities to come to the United States as refugees. The early arrivals have continued to sponsor relatives to join them, and about 7,000 were in the pipeline before the Russian invasion.

The administration has faced intensifying pressure to help those fleeing Ukraine, including from European allies assisting most of the refugees.

In Europe, Poland, Moldova and Romania have opened makeshift shelters to accommodate displaced Ukrainians. The European Union earlier this month enacted the Temporary Protection Directive, a collective protection for Ukrainian refugees that allows them to remain in the region for a year, with the possibility of extension.

Outside the European Union, Britain and Canada have created private sponsorship programs.
There also has been growing support in the United States for helping Ukrainians. Human rights groups, American citizens and the Slavic immigrant community have been clamoring to take in refugees, and websites have been matching willing hosts with Ukrainian families. But without official approval, only those with U.S. tourist or business visas can legally enter the country.

Hundreds of Ukrainians have resorted to taking roundabout journeys to Mexico and crossing the southern border into the United States, where they are seeking the same protection as migrants from Central America and other nations. From there, they are placed in deportation proceedings, and some adults have been held in immigration detention facilities for weeks before being released. Those with sponsors in the United States who agree to provide housing and support are permitted to travel onward to cities across the country.

U.S. consular offices in Europe, meanwhile, are inundated with applications, and securing any visas now has become extremely difficult, because applicants must prove they do not intend to stay. Tim Skripkin, a 35-year-old from Dallas, Texas, said his family has tried calling the State Department and embassies overseas for weeks to get his 60-year-old mother law out of Ukraine.

He said Mr. Biden’s commitment to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians, when millions have fled the Russian assault, gave him little hope.

“It’s basically a drop in the bucket,” Mr. Skripkin said, adding that he planned to travel to Ukraine in the coming weeks to escort his mother-in-law to Poland. “These people are not asking for help, they need the help because they were forced into this situation.”
Miriam Jordan reported from Los Angeles, Zolan Kanno-Youngs from Washington, and Michael D. Shear from Brussels. Eileen Sullivan contributed reporting from Washington, Christina Goldbaum from Dubai, and Najim Rahim from Houston. Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.


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Can Joe Manchin Broker a Debt Deal as Republicans Try to Unseat

The centrist West Virginia Democrat, who faces re-election in 2024, has made it clear he believes he can help broker a compromise to raise the debt ceiling.
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By Luke Broadwater
WASHINGTON — As Democrats unleashed relentless criticism against Speaker Kevin McCarthy last week, portraying him as a reckless politician willing to force the country into default and slash bedrock entitlement programs, one of their own spoke up in the top Republican’s defense: Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia.
Mr. Manchin emerged from a one-on-one meeting with Mr. McCarthy on Wednesday insisting that the House Republican leader had assured him that he would not demand cuts to Social Security and Medicare as a condition of raising the debt ceiling — and in fact was interested in a reasonable compromise.
“Kevin McCarthy’s nature is to want to show some really good leadership,” Mr. Manchin said in an interview.
It was concrete evidence that Mr. Manchin, the centrist who has been both a thorn in the side of his fellow Democrats and a pivotal player in many of their achievements over the past two years, is positioning himself to play a major role in forging a deal in a divided Congress to avert a looming fiscal crisis.
In doing so, he is once again breaking with President Biden, who has said he will not negotiate over raising the debt limit — a position that Mr. Manchin has called “a mistake” — and undercutting his party’s message, which has been to cast Republicans’ plan to block a debt-limit increase without deep spending cuts as one that could, in Mr. Biden’s words last week, “wreck our economy.”
“We’re going to have to bring a group of Democrats together that is willing to work and meet him halfway,” Mr. Manchin said of Mr. McCarthy in an interview, adding that he has been in conversations with centrists in the House who could be part of such a coalition. “I think we all know that we’re going to vote for the debt ceiling. It just depends how much how much punishment goes on as we go down that road, and how much blame can be laid upon somebody.
“I’m trying to avoid an embarrassment that makes the United States look like the kind of country we don’t want to be,” Mr. Manchin said.
What is the debt ceiling? The debt ceiling, also called the debt limit, is a cap on the total amount of money that the federal government is authorized to borrow via U.S. Treasury securities, such as bills and savings bonds, to fulfill its financial obligations. Because the United States runs budget deficits, it must borrow huge sums of money to pay its bills.
The limit has been hit. What now? America hit its technical debt limit on Jan. 19. The Treasury Department will now begin using “extraordinary measures” to continue paying the government’s obligations. These measures are essentially fiscal accounting tools that curb certain government investments so that the bills continue to be paid. Those options could be exhausted by June.
What is at stake? Once the government exhausts its extraordinary measures and runs out of cash, it would be unable to issue new debt and pay its bills. The government could wind up defaulting on its debt if it is unable to make required payments to its bondholders. Such a scenario would be economically devastating and could plunge the globe into a financial crisis.
Can the government do anything to forestall disaster? There is no official playbook for what Washington can do. But options do exist. The Treasury could try to prioritize payments, such as paying bondholders first. If the United States does default on its debt, which would rattle the markets, the Federal Reserve could theoretically step in to buy some of those Treasury bonds.
Why is there a limit on U.S. borrowing? According to the Constitution, Congress must authorize borrowing. The debt limit was instituted in the early 20th century so that the Treasury would not need to ask for permission each time it had to issue debt to pay bills.
In a town known for its cynicism and toxic partisanship, Mr. Manchin’s determination to be the broker of an improbable fiscal deal is the latest evidence of his almost quixotic confidence in his ability to bring rival factions together on any issue. (In the past he has expressed shock and dismay after he couldn’t convince Republicans to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol or streamline the permitting of energy projects.)
“Manchin believes with all that is within him that if he could just get everybody in the room and lock the door and order pizza, that he can get a deal,” says Hoppy Kercheval, a radio host who is known as the dean of West Virginia broadcasters.
It’s a trait that can be infuriating to Mr. Manchin’s Democratic colleagues, and one that leads to a curious political disconnect: The Democrat in Congress most eager to ally himself with Republicans is the same one they are targeting most intensely for defeat.
Senate Republicans have rolled out an aggressive ad campaign against the West Virginia senator who is up for re-election in 2024, declaring war on the man they have dubbed “Maserati Manchin” — a reference to his expensive sports car — as part of a pressure campaign designed to dissuade him from seeking a third term.
Mr. Manchin was not surprised, he said in an interview. “The toxic part of this political process is, whoever’s in cycle is the enemy.”
For now, he is being coy about his political future.
“I haven’t decided,” he said, “whether I run for Senate or whether I’m taking on a new adventure in life. I really haven’t. I’m not ready to make a decision yet.”
His Senate seat, in a deep red state that former President Donald J. Trump carried by about 39 percentage points, is now the most coveted target for Senate Republicans, who believe they can take back the chamber by picking off Mr. Manchin and two other Democratic senators from more conservative states: Senator Jon Tester of Montana (where Mr. Trump won by 16 percentage points) and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio (where Mr. Trump won by 8 percentage points).
Mr. Manchin’s Republican opponents have been queuing up to take him on. Governor Jim Justice — who has vacillated between being an ally and a foe of Mr. Manchin throughout his career and once fired Mr. Manchin’s wife, Gayle — says he is “seriously considering” a run for Senate, and Representative Alex X. Mooney, who is further to the right, has already announced his candidacy.
But even as they attack him, Mr. Manchin says Republicans in Congress are still working on him “every day” to switch parties, though the requests no longer come from Senator Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican from Kentucky, whose relationship with Mr. Manchin grew strained last year.
“McConnell’s given up, he’s tried so many times,” Mr. Manchin said.
In the interim, Mr. Manchin has an outsized share of leverage in Washington. Both Mr. Biden and Senator Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat and majority leader, badly need Mr. Manchin to seek a third term if they hope to preserve Democratic control of the chamber, a strong incentive to keep the former West Virginia University quarterback happy.
Mr. Manchin says he has been watching the polls closely. He knows when he has opposed Mr. Biden, his numbers shot up in West Virginia. When he agreed with the Biden agenda, his ratings declined.
At no time was this more evident than when he backed the party-line climate and tax legislation, which aims to counter the toll of climate change on a rapidly warming planet, takes steps to lower the cost of prescription drugs and revamps portions of the tax code to pay for it all.
“He knew it was going to be really hard on his approval ratings,” said Senator John Hickenlooper, Democrat of Colorado. “And he knew he was going to be up for re-election. And yet he did it because he thought it was the right thing for West Virginia and the right thing for this country.”
As such, Mr. Manchin has lately undertaken a rebranding tour about the bill, which was called the Inflation Reduction Act but was mostly hailed as an environmental success. In media interviews and public appearances, Mr. Manchin, who has a personal financial interest in the coal industry,  has sought to reframe legislation he helped draft as a domestic “energy security” bill whose primary goal is to ensure the United States doesn’t need to rely on other nations for fuel; he emphasizes that it ensures drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, requires the federal government to auction off more public lands for oil drilling, and expands tax credits for carbon capture technology to benefit coal or gas-burning power plants.
“It’s the greatest fossil support deal that we’ve ever had — you can’t talk about that!” Mr. Manchin said. “Well, let me tell you one thing: We’re not putting no damn windmill in the Gulf of Mexico unless we’re drilling.”
Headed into 2020, he predicted a closely divided Senate would be a “golden opportunity” for bipartisan deal-making, and, indeed, it was: For an institution better known for paralysis, the 117th Congress pulled off an extraordinarily productive run, with Mr. Manchin in the center of many of those deals.
They included passage of the biggest investment in clean energy in U.S. history, the largest financing of bridges since the construction of the interstate highway system, the first bipartisan gun safety legislation in a generation, a huge microchip production and scientific research bill to bolster American competitiveness with China, a major veterans health care measure, and an overhaul of the electoral system designed to prevent another Jan. 6-style attempt to overturn a presidential election.
While deeply involved in those negotiations, Mr. Manchin often was the voice of “no” within the party, demanding smaller bills and “raising hell,” as he describes it, about the danger of prompting out-of-control inflation. The biggest setback he dealt to Mr. Biden’s agenda was when he killed the president’s sweeping “Build Back Better” domestic policy legislation, a move Mr. Manchin asserts “saved the country from going into a truly hard, hard recession.”
It was ultimately reborn in a smaller form as the climate, health and tax measure and rebranded as the Inflation Reduction Act.
“I know he frustrated some of my colleagues, but I think he played an enormously positive role” in negotiations, including paring down the domestic policy bill, said Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia. “In retrospect, it was too big. It was basically trying to solve virtually every problem in a single piece of legislation.”
Mr. Warner added: “Let’s face it: The Fed was wrong; most economists cited by the administration were wrong; I was wrong — I didn’t think inflation was going to get as bad as it did — and he was more directionally right.”
Mr. Manchin concedes the current deal-making environment on Capitol Hill will be “more challenging” than in the last Congress, now that Republicans control the House. His vote is also slightly less pivotal, since Democrats have firmer control with a 51-to-49 majority rather than 50-50.
But Republicans and Democrats said Mr. Manchin will still be crucial. Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee and an ally of Mr. Manchin’s, says she hopes a group of centrists can figure out how to make deals in the current Congress, just as they did for the past two years.
“There’s going to have to be a lot of give and take and negotiation in order for us to get the people’s business done,” Ms. Collins said. “And Joe will be front and center.”

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Mets Morning News: Port St. Lucie, here we come!


Your Tuesday morning dose of New York Mets and MLB news, notes, and links.
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The Mets loaded up their trucks and sent them on their merry way to Florida. Mets’ Pitchers and Catchers report in 16 days, for those keeping score at home.

It’s never too early to think about next offseason, and you can expect New York to be in the thick of the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes if Steve Cohen has something to say about it.

Jacob deGrom recently told Buck Showalter that there is a ‘real’ reason why he left the Mets.
With David Peterson, Tylor Megill, and Joey Lucchesi, Thomas Harrigan believes the Mets have the best starting pitching depth in baseball.

Jarrett Seidler explored the Jeff McNeil extension.
Ex-Met Darren O’day announced his retirement.

Will Sammon shared some notes around the club in his Mets Notebook.
Ronny Mauricio decided to pay a young fan a special surprise visit.

The Marlins officially traded Richard Bleier to the Red Sox for Matt Barnes.
The Phillies designated Sam Coonrod for assignment to complete the Josh Harrison signing.
Jake Alu had a breakout year in the Nationals’ minor league system, but can he keep it up
Keith Law revealed his Top Prospects for 2023.

Sarah Langs identified some players who could produce a 40-40 season in 2023.
Mike Petriello examined the impact of the Tigers bringing in the fences at Comerica Park.
Zack Greinke is back with the Royals on a one-year deal.
The Reds have inked Chad Pinder.

Brad Wilkerson has been named Assistant Hitting Coach of the Yankees.
The Guardians announced the passing of long-time fan and stadium staple John Adams, who has been banging the drum at their home games for almost half a century.

Jett (the Met) Williams landed at number 5 on the Amazin’ Avenue list of Top 25 prospects for the 2023 season.
Episode 207 of From Complex to Queens continues the countdown of Top 25 Prospects for the 2023 season.
Ralph Kiner signed on to broadcast Mets games alongside Bob Murphy and Lindsay Nelson on this date in 1962, thus beginning his road towards becoming a beloved icon in the franchise’s history.


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Vessel strike blamed for humpback whale’s death in New Yorkt

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
People work around the carcass of a dead whale in Lido Beach, N.Y., Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. The 35-foot humpback whale, that washed ashore and subsequently died, is one of several cetaceans that have been found over the past two months along the shores of New York and New Jersey. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig).

LIDO BEACH, N.Y. – A humpback whale that washed ashore on a New York beach this week was likely killed by a vessel, federal authorities said Wednesday.

A necropsy will determine the exact cause of death for the whale, a male named Luna that was more than 40 years old and had been tracked by marine biologists for decades, said officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The whale was discovered Monday morning at Lido Beach West Town Park on Long Island and was hauled up to the beach with a crane.

A necropsy team including representatives from the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, NOAA Fisheries, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Mystic Aquarium Animal Response Program and the Marine Mammal Stranding Center assembled Tuesday and cut through the blubber to collect samples of the whale’s internal organs, NOAA officials said in a statement.

The whale was likely killed by a vessel strike, the officials said, but more will be known once the results of the samples become available.

Officials said the whale’s level of decomposition indicated that it had died several days before washing ashore, contradicting early reports that the animal had beached itself while it was alive.

The whale was about 41 feet (12 meters) long and weighed 29,000 pounds (13,154 kilos), the officials said.
NOAA, which is responsible for the nation’s oceans and fisheries, says 19 humpback whales were stranded last year along the U.S. Atlantic coast. During the first month of this year, there have already been seven of the whales beached from Maine to Florida.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.




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