May 12, 2014
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On Monday, officials in the eastern Ukraine region of Donetsk claimed an overwhelming victory in a controversial vote for "self-rule." Boris Litvinov, head of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk Central Election Committee, said that 90 percent of Donetsk voters approved independence. The second region holding an independence vote, Luhansk, is expected to report preliminary results later today.

The voting was reportedly rife with irregularities, and opponents of the plebiscites apparently stayed home. A Pew poll released last week found that 70 percent of eastern Ukrainians want to stay united with the rest of the country.

U.S. and Western European nations said the referendum is illegal and they won't recognize the results. Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov was more pointed, saying Monday that "this propagandist farce will not have any legal consequences, only criminal responsibility of its organizers." The Kremlin stopped just short of rolling out the welcome mat: "Moscow respects the will of the population of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and hopes that the practical implementation of the outcome of the referendums will proceed along civilized lines, without repeat outbreaks of violence."

A Ukrainian national guardsmen shot and killed at least one man in Krasnoarmiysk and fired into a crowd in the Luhansk region, wounding two. Peter Weber

7:45 a.m. ET

The Senate foreign relations committee is set to vote on President Donald Trump's secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson, on Monday. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) could potentially upset a smooth nomination process if he decides to vote "no" on Tillerson; while Rubio's no vote wouldn't concretely stop Tillerson from being confirmed, it would send him to the Senate floor without a positive recommendation, an "embarrassing rebuke to Trump just as his presidency gets underway," Time writes.

Rubio stood up to Tillerson on the issue of Russia and human rights earlier this month, but other top Republican senators, including John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), have, after some deliberation, announced their support of the former ExxonMobil executive. Jeva Lange

7:18 a.m. ET
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President Donald Trump has a "busy week planned with a heavy focus on jobs and national security," he tweeted Monday morning. Much of that will entail reaching out to potential allies: Trump meets with business leaders in a "listening session" Monday to discuss manufacturing jobs, followed by a meeting with union leaders and workers in the afternoon, lunch with Vice President Mike Pence, and his first meeting as president with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Trump is also expected to sign executive orders Monday morning on topics possibly ranging "from immigration to Israel to the economy, including what he called a re-working of the North American Free Trade Agreement," USA Today writes.

Trump's team will especially be aiming for a smooth first week after such a bumpy inaugural weekend. "They got off to a very rocky start because they see everyone as adversaries," Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, a Trump friend who talks with him often, told Politico. Jeva Lange

6:58 a.m. ET

On Saturday, at least 3 million women, children, and men gathered in Washington, D.C., for a Women's March and in more than 650 other cities and towns around the world for "sister" marches, broadly speaking to stand up for women's rights and protest President Donald Trump on the first full day of his presidency. Crowd sizes are difficult to measure accurately, and though the National Park Service does put a figure on crowds on the National Mall, the estimates are politically sensitive enough that Congress barred the agency from releasing them in 1996.

By all accounts, though, the turnout at the marches exceeded the expectations of the organizers. By all measurable metrics, more people showed up to protest Trump in Washington than to see him sworn in on Friday — three times more, according to an estimate by crowd scientists for The New York Times. Here's a look at some of the numbers:

Estimated number of protesters in the U.S.: 3.3 million to 4.6 million (per tally by Jeremy Pressman, Erica Chenoweth)
Population of America: 324 million
Number of Americans who voted for Trump: 63 million
Number of Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton: 65.8 million
Estimated number of protesters outside the U.S.: 263,000 to 297,000 (Pressman, Chenoweth)
Estimated number of protesters in Washington, D.C.: 470,000 to 680,000
Number of march-related arrests in Washington, D.C.: 0
Estimated protesters in Los Angeles: 500,000 to 750,000
Number of march-related arrests in Los Angeles: 0
Estimated number of protesters in New York City: 400,000 to 500,000
Estimated number of protesters in Chicago: 250,000
Estimated number of protesters in Denver: 200,000
Estimated number of protesters in London: 100,000
Number of protesters in Stanley, Idaho: 30
Population of Stanley, Idaho: 63
D.C. Metro rides on Jan. 21: 1,001,613 (second-highest day on record)
D.C. Metro rides on typical weekday: 639,000
D.C. Metro rides on Jan. 20: 570,557
D.C. Metro rides on Jan. 20, 2009: 1.1 million (record, Obama's first inauguration)

You can get a glimpse of what those numbers look like in human terms in the Wall Street Journal report below. Peter Weber

4:25 a.m. ET

In between Saturday Night Live's Russia-themed takedown of President Trump and a musical sendup of his adviser and spinmeister Kellyanne Conway, host Aziz Ansari urged some peace and reconciliation between Trump critics and his supporters — well, most of them, anyway. Ansari started off his monologue by saying that while Trump may be president, it's "pretty cool to know, though, he's probably at home right now watching a brown guy make fun of him." He celebrated the anti-Trump Women's Marches in Washington, D.C., and around the world — "today, an entire gender protested against him" — adding that "we should be careful, though. We can't demonize everyone who voted for Trump."

Nearly 63 million Americans voted for Trump, Ansari noted. "Don't judge them by their worst." People voted for lots of different reasons, with different levels of enthusiasm. "I'm sure there are a lot of people who voted for Trump the same way a lot of people listen to the music of Chris Brown, where it's like, 'Hey, man, I'm just here for the tunes,'" not the "extracurriculars," Ansari said. "So look, we're divided, it's okay," he said. "We've always been divided by some of these big political issues. It's fine. As long as we treat each other with respect and remember that ultimately we're all Americans, we'll be fine."

After the applause, Ansari carved out an exception to the mutual respect: the "tiny slice of people that have gotten way too fired up about the Trump thing for the wrong reasons — I'm talking about these people who as soon as Trump won, they're like, 'We don't have to pretend like we're not racist anymore!'" If you fit in this "lower-case kkk movement" of "casual white supremacy," he said, "please go back to pretending." His stand-up-style monologue offered some solutions on how to end casual racism and Islamophobia, and waxed poetic about his newfound admiration for George W. Bush. "If you're excited about Trump, great —he's president, let's hope he does a great job," Ansari said, beginning his wrap-up. "If you're scared about Trump, and you're very worried, you're going to be okay, too." Peter Weber

3:19 a.m. ET
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President Trump woke up Saturday fuming over tweets from Friday afternoon unfavorably comparing the size of his inaugural crowd to those of former President Barack Obama, The New York Times reports, citing "several people close to him." Several senior advisers reportedly urged him to move on, while other aides, including press secretary Sean Spicer, encouraged him to hit back at the press — which Trump did, at CIA headquarters on Saturday, saying he has a "running war with the media" and accusing the press of lying about his inaugural crowd, which he incorrectly pegged at about 1.5 million.

Spicer then held his first press briefing and told the gathered reporters that Trump's was "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," which is demonstrably false. Senior counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Meet the Press Sunday that Spicer was citing "alternative facts," and White House chief of staff Reince Preibus said the media was trying to delegitimize Trump's win. By Sunday night, Trump friends and allies were telling the media they were ready to hit the reset button.

"They got off to a very rocky start because they see everyone as adversaries," Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, a Trump friend who talks with him often, told Politico. Trump is surrounded by new people, Ruddy said, and "one of the things they don't understand about him is he likes pushback. They are not giving him the pushback he needs when he's giving advice.... If he doesn't have people who can tell him no, this is not going to go very well." Another "person who frequently talks to Trump" agreed, specifying that aides have to control information that sets him off, Politico reports. "He gets bored and likes to watch TV, this person said, so it is important to minimize that."

"The truth of the matter is he had a successful inauguration with a respectful crowd. The transition of power went off without a hitch. His supporters were amiable by and large," presidential historian Douglas Brinkley told Politico. "But then he can never let go and stop watching cable TV. Now he's off to the worst start of a presidency in a very long time."

Other Trump friends said the new president is just being the "folksy" leader his supporters love, arguing that the media doesn't have much credibility. But even allies urged aides to contain Trump's worst impulses. "It's unconventional at best and disastrous at worst," said Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), whose governorship was derailed when he disappeared to meet his foreign mistress, telling aides he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. "These distractions have the capacity to sink his entire administration." Peter Weber

2:09 a.m. ET

Amy Craton, 94, just received her bachelor's degree, but she's already moved on and is looking forward to earning her master's.

"I feel that I'm still on the road," she told Inside Edition. "I have more to learn." The Honolulu resident began attending college in 1962, but had to put her education on hold when she went through a divorce and became a single mom. All these years later, Craton decided to finish what she started, and because she is hard of hearing and uses a wheelchair, she completed her courses online, earning a 4.0 GPA along the way.

The president of Southern New Hampshire University surprised Craton by bringing her degree to Hawaii, and the new graduate said she's proud of her accomplishment. "It feels good to finish that part of my life," she said. "I couldn't see just sitting there watching Netflix all the time." Catherine Garcia

1:39 a.m. ET
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When peace talks begin Monday in the capital of Kazakhstan, the Syrian opposition will only discuss the cease-fire brokered by Turkey and Russia, which leaders say has been primarily violated by Iranian-backed militias supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"We will not enter into any political discussions and everything revolves over abiding by the cease-fire and the humanitarian dimension of easing the suffering of Syrians under siege and release of detainees and delivery of aid," Yahya al Aridi, a spokesman for the opposition delegation, told Reuters. "The Syrian regime has an interest in diverting attention from these issues. If the Syrian regime thinks our presence in Astana is a surrender by us, this is a delusion."

The peace talks are being orchestrated by Russia and Iran, supporters of the Syrian government, and Turkey, which backs the rebels. Over the last six years of fighting, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed and 11 million have been displaced. Catherine Garcia

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