Moscow on Sunday warned Ukraine that it could face "irreversible consequences" after a shell allegedly fired by the Ukrainian army killed a Russian civilian.
Russia claimed one man was killed and one woman injured when a round launched from Ukraine landed in the courtyard of a home in Donetsk, just across the border. "This incident highlights the extremely dangerous escalation of tensions in the Russian-Ukrainian border and may have irreversible consequences," Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday.
Despite Russia's claims, Ukraine denied it had fired the shell, instead suggesting pro-Russian separatists could have launched the attack in an attempt to dupe Russia into blaming Ukraine. The incident comes after a week in which Ukrainian forces reclaimed territory in eastern Ukraine previously held by rebels. Jon Terbush
President-elect Donald Trump wants you to know that he's been working really hard on his inaugural address, to be delivered on Friday. He posted a photo on Wednesday to prove it.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2017
It is a nice desk, in front of a lovely and distinctive tile pattern. It also appears to be one usually occupied by the Mar-A-Lago club receptionist:
You can also spot the desk in what appears to be a public hallway, in the Mar-a-Lago photo gallery, and in historic photographs of the estate Trump purchased in 1985. New York's Madison Malone Kircher suggests, politely and with more documentation, that maybe the photo isn't all that it seems to be. "We're not saying that Trump didn't write his speech, in Sharpie, on a legal pad, at this desk, with its magnificent and inspirational eagle statue," she wrote, dryly. "Obviously he did; why would the president-elect stage such a photograph? It seems clear the Secret Service cleared out Mar-a-Lago, to give Trump the privacy and quiet he needed, and he chose that particular hallway desk to begin writing his speech." We'll get to hear the fruit of his purported work on Friday. Peter Weber
There are nearly 60 seniors at Cincinnati's DePaul Cristo Rey High School, and every single one has received at least one acceptance letter from a college.
— DePaul Cristo Rey (@DePaulCristoRey) January 17, 2017
"It makes me feel proud," principal Andy Farfsing told WLWT Cincinnati. "We work hard with these students. We welcome them in as freshmen with a promise that all students will graduate from high school and college and we will do it together." On Tuesday, the school held a celebration for the college-bound seniors, who have also earned $3.8 million in merit-based scholarship money. This is the third straight year that the high school has had 100 percent college acceptance, and the letters are still arriving. "We know that we did this together and all the students who are under us are looking up to us," senior Joseph Whittle said. "They're going to be in our seats one day." Catherine Garcia
If all of Donald Trump's top nominees are confirmed, his Cabinet will be the first since 1988 to not have any Hispanic members.
On Wednesday night, transition officials said that Trump has tapped former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to head the Agriculture Department. There were several Latinos under consideration for the position, including former Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas); Abel Maldonado, who briefly served as California lieutenant governor; and Elsa Murano, a former undersecretary for food safety. Hector Sanchez, chairman of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, told The Dallas Morning News that considering Hispanics make up 17 percent of the U.S. population, this underrepresentation is unacceptable: "By not including Latinos in the Cabinet, he is just showing how he is planning to govern." Trump, who started his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants "rapists" and promising to make Mexico pay for a border wall, received only 18 percent of the vote among Hispanics.
In 1988, Ronald Reagan picked Lauro Cavazos, a Democrat from Texas, to be education secretary, making him the first Latino Cabinet member. Every president since has had at least one Hispanic Cabinet member at all times. There is some diversity among the Cabinet picks — Ben Carson (housing secretary) is black, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (U.N. ambassador) is Indian-American, and Elaine Chao (transportation secretary) is Taiwanese-American. Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump is more concerned about seeking out "the best and brightest to fill out his Cabinet." Catherine Garcia
Rick Perry reportedly agreed to be energy secretary without checking what the Energy Department does
Maybe this is why Rick Perry forgot that he wanted to eliminated the Energy Department in his famous "oops" moment at a 2012 debate.
When President-elect Donald J. Trump offered Rick Perry the job of energy secretary five weeks ago, Mr. Perry gladly accepted, believing he was taking on a role as a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry that he had long championed in his home state.
In the days after, Mr. Perry, the former Texas governor, discovered that he would be no such thing — that in fact, if confirmed by the Senate, he would become the steward of a vast national security complex he knew almost nothing about, caring for the most fearsome weapons on the planet, the United States' nuclear arsenal. [The New York Times]
As Perry could have learned by reading the Energy Department's website — or Wikipedia — the lion's share of the Energy Department budget goes toward maintaining, protecting, and updating the U.S. nuclear arsenal; financing a clutch of prestigious national laboratories; monitoring and countering nuclear proliferation; and managing America's aging nuclear production facilities. "If you asked him on that first day he said yes, he would have said, 'I want to be an advocate for energy,'" said Michael McKenna, a GOP energy lobbyist close to Perry who worked on Trump's transition team. "If you asked him now, he'd say, 'I'm serious about the challenges facing the nuclear complex.' It's been a learning curve."
Perry's confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy Committee is Thursday, and he can expect some tough questions to test his quick education. Perry, who has an undergraduate degree in animal sciences, holds the record as the longest-serving governor of Texas, and his 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns were based on the economic success the Lone Star State had under his low-tax, low-regulation policies. His management experience would undoubtedly be a useful asset at any federal agency.
Obama's two energy secretaries had doctorates in physics — the first, Steven Chu, won a Nobel Prize, and outgoing Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was chairman of the MIT physics department and director of the university's Laboratory for Nuclear Science. You can read more about Perry's learning curve at The New York Times. Peter Weber
President-elect Donald Trump quietly paid out $25 million on Tuesday night to settle litigation against his now-defunct Trump University, one day before the deadline and three days before he is set to be inaugurated.
The funds were deposited into an escrow account by the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative (Trump University had to change its name to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative after New York officials told it to stop using the word "university"), and the $25 million will settle three lawsuits that said Trump University misled students into thinking they would learn actual useful tips about real estate by instructors handpicked by Trump. The settlement was reached on Nov. 18; $21 million will go to thousands of class members in two cases out of San Diego, and $4 million will take care of a suit filed by the New York attorney general. A final approval hearing is set for March 30 in San Diego federal court. Catherine Garcia
Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz flew to Senegal early Thursday for a meeting with President Macky Sall after last-minute efforts to get Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh to peacefully step down failed, Reuters reports.
In a December election, Jammeh was defeated by real estate developer Adama Barrow, but a week after conceding, he changed his mind. With the support of other leaders in the region, Senegal's president has threatened to invade Gambia in order to forcefully remove Jammeh, who has ruled for more than two decades and once said he would preside over Gambia for "a billion years." Barrow was supposed to be sworn in on Thursday at the national stadium, but a spokesman said the ceremony will now take place at an undisclosed location. As a precaution, tourists have been evacuated from the Gambian capital, Banjul. Catherine Garcia
Sonny Perdue, the Republican former governor of Georgia, has been chosen to lead the Agriculture Department, Trump transition officials told Politico Wednesday. Agriculture secretary was the last vacant nomination in President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet.
A formal announcement is expected to be made on Thursday. Perdue was one of the first members of Trump's Agricultural Advisory Committee, launched in August. He earned his doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Georgia in 1971, and was a captain in the Air Force. Since 1977, he has owned several agribusiness and transportation companies, and in 2011, launched Perdue Partners, which facilitates the exports of U.S. goods and services. Catherine Garcia