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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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Russell Wilson quarterback coach Jake Heaps joins Broncos QB in Denver

PARKER, Colo. – On Thursday morning, Jake Heaps spent four hours on the radio airwaves in Seattle, wrapping up his final day as the co-host of a mid-day sports show.
Less than 24 hours later, he found himself walking between fields among roughly 500 campers at Colorado’s Chaparral High School, in the market he’ll be building the next phase of his career and life in.   
Heaps hopped on a plane to get to the greater Denver area for the first of what will be many Russell Wilson Passing Academy camps, having worked with Wilson, the Broncos’ new star quarterback, for the past five years.
Heaps, a Washington native who played quarterback for BYU, Kansas and Miami (Fla.) in college and who spent parts of three offseasons on NFL rosters, will continue to be involved in Wilson’s Passing Academy but also will serve as Wilson’s full-time, private quarterback coach.
“We’ve been doing stuff in the offseason and all that, but with him moving to Denver – for me, my home base was Seattle, so everything was just kind of worked out and it was nice and in sync. But I think to do what we want to accomplish and for Russell, what he wants to accomplish in his career over the next 10 years here in Denver, there’s a lot of things we wanted to do not only for him and his career but for the Denver community from a training aspect and all that,” Heaps told USA TODAY Sports on Friday. “It’s a big change for me personally, but I’m excited to jump two feet in and to work with him super closely and do whatever I can to be at his best.
“That’s what it’s really about.”
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Heaps and Wilson first crossed paths when Heaps spent an offseason on the Seahawks roster and then part of the 2016 campaign on the franchise’s practice squad.
“I was on and off the roster for two years and we really just connected through the work,” Heaps said. “He saw how hard I worked. I tried to beat him to the facility every day and we grew a bond through that. I got a random phone call from (Wilson) asking to fly out and come train him at UCLA and said sure. We’ve been together ever since. It’s been really cool to have that friendship and to have that trust that he has in me and have honest conversations and to evaluate his game and do whatever I can to help him be better. Whether that’s making things that he’s struggled with better or just maintaining what he’s doing.
“He’s one of the best in the world, so it’s not like you’re wholesale trying to change everything every year, it’s just trying to make him 1% better every year and find ways where he can be better and stay sharp and be on top of things.”  
Wilson, of course, is learning a new offense in Denver under first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who has made it clear that the playbook building has been a collaborative effort between the offensive staff and the quarterback.
The system, though, is at least somewhat familiar to Wilson because he played for offensive coordinator Shane Waldron last fall in Seattle after Waldron coached the previous four years with the Los Angeles Rams under head coach Sean McVay. Hackett, meanwhile, spent the past three years with another member of that McVay and Kyle Shanahan coaching tree in Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur.  
“There’s a lot of mental aspects of what you’ve got to work on and make sure (Wilson’s) sharp on the new plays and new aspects of the playbook, testing him and quizzing him and all those things,” Heaps said. … “There’s familiarity there, but it’s been really cool to watch everybody work together to mesh this thing and make everyone comfortable from the coaching staff to Russell to the guys on the team. It’s been really awesome and, honestly, I’m blown away from where they are at this point in the offseason with the install and where everybody’s at.”
Before the offseason program began, Wilson hosted the Broncos’ wide receivers plus center Lloyd Cushenberry at his home in Southern California to get several days’ worth of work in and build chemistry. The quarterback said recently they’ll be reconvening again next month before Denver’s training camp begins July 27.
“We’ll let guys get away. We’ve been going for 2.5 months now, it feels like, so we’ll let the guys get away, spend family time, do whatever they need to do, travel, whatever it is,” Wilson said. “The last couple weeks we’ll really spend some time before we come back. We’ll spend some quality time down in Southern California.”
Wilson, like a few other top-tier quarterbacks, has built an operation around himself that is designed to help him excel despite all the time spent away from the facility. One week, between a Thursday OTA practice and a Tuesday practice, Wilson and his wife Ciara traveled to the Monaco Grand Prix and back. On another off weekend, he flew to Dartmouth College, the alma mater of his late father and several other family members, to give a commencement address. A couple weeks before that, he was at a Seattle Children’s Hospital event on an off-day. 
Joked teammate Melvin Gordon: “When you’re making $30-some million a year, you can private jet around wherever you want. He’s all about football, though, man. He’s locked in. There’s no other way to put it.”  
Wilson, for his part, described the importance of the people around him. 
“Having an amazing team, my performance team comes with me everywhere I go. My assistant helps with everything,” he said last week. “Everybody’s super organized so there’s never wasted space, and I think that’s the key thing. There’s never wasted space.”
Heaps is a full-time member of that team now. He’ll be in California for the offseason training sessions and then back in Denver to help Wilson get ready for the regular season. Simultaneously, he’ll be part of the group that works to build out the RWPA camps, develop more high-end quarterback training opportunities here and continue to broaden the way Wilson’s presence is felt in Denver.
“He wants to be great. He already is great, but what he wants to accomplish over the second half of his career, he wants it to be special and I think he has the ability to do that in Denver,” Heaps said. “This organization has been fantastic from Day One with him and the guys have been fantastic. Obviously, this is the honeymoon phase and everything is great, everything’s special, but I truly believe that they’ve got what it takes to really make some noise and accomplish the goals that they all have.”

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Sis Wins Gold Medal With USA Volleyball at Pan American Cup – GoCreighton.com

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Sexual, Physical Abuse Allegations Hit Ex-USA Volleyball Coach – The College Post


The former head coach of the University of South Alabama (USA) women’s volleyball team has been hit with sexual harassment allegations and other serious charges. 
Another victim has accused Alexis Meeks-Rydell of physical and psychological abuse, bringing the total number of accusers to nine.
In the new complaint, former USA student-athlete Cassadi Colbert alleged that Meeks-Rydell convened “breakfast clubs” where players would be instructed “to run and do other physical drills” early in the morning until they vomited or passed out from exhaustion. 
According to court documents, the practice caused Colbert extreme stress, anxiety, and distress. Colbert said Meeks-Rydell also behaved inappropriately, engaging in unwanted physical touching, such as forced hugging and pinching students’ buttocks.
The Plaintiffs claim that USA Athletic Director Joel Erdmann and former volleyball assistants Rob Chilcoat and Patricia Gandalfo were aware of the situation but did not intervene. The university declined to comment on the addition of Colbert’s lawsuit.
Rachael DeMarcus and Alexis Silver are former athletes who filed a similar lawsuit last August against Meeks-Rydell. It was later amended to include six other USA alumni. 
The initial complaint said the ex-head coach allegedly enforced “a climate of fear and intimidation” among the team. She would overtrain her players and force them to play or practice through injuries. 
“Plaintiffs’ athletic and academic aspirations were negatively, severely and irreparably impacted, damaged and ruined by the misconduct,” according to the complaint.
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