Iceland said it could only accept 50 Syrian refugees. Then 10,000 big-hearted Icelanders offered up their homes.
Europe is buckling under the weight of hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern refugees trying to get into the EU. The Keleti train station in Budapest shut down Tuesday due to the number of migrants trying to get from Hungary to Germany; in late August, 71 refugees were found dead after suffocating in a refrigerated truck in Austria. Germany, meanwhile, is expecting 800,000 refugee arrivals this year.
In response to the crisis, the tiny island nation of Iceland has only offered the smallest amount of aid, agreeing to take in a mere 50 Syrian refugees. That wasn't nearly enough for popular Icelandic children's book author Bryndís Björgvinsdóttir. She launched a Facebook campaign that asked her fellow countrymen and women to open up their homes and urge the government to do more, The Telegraph reports. In 24 hours, more than 10,000 Icelanders had offered their homes for refugees to stay in. Keep in mind that Iceland's entire population is less than 330,000.
"I think people have had enough of seeing news stories from the Mediterranean and refugee camps of dying people and they want something done now," Björgvinsdóttir told Icelandic public television RUV in response to the overwhelming support.
That seems to be true. "I'm a single mother with a 6-year-old son...We can take a child in need. I'm a teacher and would teach the child to speak, read, and write Icelandic, and adjust to Icelandic society," one Facebook user wrote. "We have clothes, a bed, toys, and everything a child needs. I would of course pay for the airplane ticket."
The Icelandic government is now looking into how to accept more refugees. Whatever they decide, this much is for sure: The migrants they take in will have a warm welcome waiting for them. Jeva Lange
White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short had a testy conversation with NBC's Chuck Todd on Meet the Press Sunday in which he maintained the Trump administration is not internally debating whether to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller from his probe into Russian election meddling efforts.
Todd raised the subject of emails the Trump transition team claims Mueller obtained unlawfully, but Short pleaded ignorance of the specifics of that situation. Instead, he argued the Russia investigation in general has been wasteful and unnecessary, which led to this rapid-fire exchange:
Todd: Ok, but is the president going to continue to cooperate?
Short: He is continuing to cooperate —
Todd: Or is he setting the stage —
Short: No, come on, Chuck.
Todd: For firing Bob Mueller?
Short: No, there's no conversation —
Todd: There's no way he's going to fire him?
Short: There's no conversation about that whatsoever in the White House, Chuck.
Todd: None whatsoever?
Short: You guys keep bringing that up. We have continued to cooperate in every single possible way with that investigation. [NBC]
Mueller's office denied accessing the emails unlawfully, stating it has always "secured either the account owner's consent or appropriate criminal process" when obtaining communications for the investigation. Watch an excerpt of the NBC interview below. Bonnie Kristian
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) December 17, 2017
Britain's Prince Harry has interviewed former President Obama for a radio show set to air later this month. Though recorded in September, the first teaser clip of the conversation was shared by Kensington Palace social media accounts Sunday.
Clocking in under a minute, the short video sees Obama and the prince joking as they prepare to begin their interview. "Do I have to speak faster, because I'm a slow speaker?" Obama asks. "Do I need a British accent?" Harry assures him that won't be necessary, but warns against leaving Obama's trademark "long pauses between the answers." Watch the teaser below. Bonnie Kristian
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) December 17, 2017
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not the only federal agency reportedly prohibited by the Trump White House from using words and phrases including "vulnerable," "entitlement," "diversity," "transgender," "fetus," "evidence-based," and "science-based."
The Washington Post reported Saturday evening that other divisions in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have been given the same list of banned terms. Furthermore, staff at one agency were reportedly told to say "ObamaCare" instead of "Affordable Care Act," and ObamaCare "exchanges" instead of "marketplaces," while the State Department is calling sex education "sexual risk avoidance."
California's Thomas Fire grew to be the second-largest wildfire in the state's recorded history by Sunday morning. The blaze has burned more than 267,000 acres and is expected to grow larger than the all-time biggest California fire as soon as Sunday night thanks to continued high winds in Southern California. The fire now poses a serious threat to hundreds of homes in Montecito, a coastal town on the outskirts of Santa Barbara.
"When the [sundowner winds] surface in that area and the fire starts running down slopes, you are not going to stop it," said Mark Brown, of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "And we are not going to stand in front of it and put firefighters in untenable situations."
See the fire's projected growth via the Los Angeles Times below. Bonnie Kristian
— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) December 12, 2017
President Trump defended congressional Republicans' final tax bill while speaking with reporters Saturday, accusing Democrats of criticizing the plan without knowing what it will do. "It's going to be one of the great Christmas gifts to middle-income people," Trump said. "The Democrats have their sound bite, the standard sound bite before they even know what the bill is all about."
Trump also praised the strength of the economy, which he said will "start to rock" at up to 6 percent annual growth thanks to the tax bill and "what we've done with regulation and other things." Watch an excerpt of the president's comments via his Twitter account below. Bonnie Kristian
TAX CUTS will increase investment in the American economy and in U.S. workers, leading to higher growth, higher wages, and more JOBS! pic.twitter.com/4GxM8psMU1
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 16, 2017
Saturday Night Live's President Trump (Alec Baldwin) is excited to trim the White House tree now that he has declared an end to hostilities in the "War on Christmas," and this year, the first family is decorating on a theme. Joined by the first lady, some of his children, and various administration staff, Trump adorns his "tree of shame" with ornaments featuring the faces of "all the haters and losers [he] destroyed this year."
The haters and losers are mostly former members of the Trump White House, but fired FBI Director James Comey and former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore are on the tree, too. Elf on the Shelf Attorney General Jeff Sessions (Kate McKinnon) shows up on the mantel to help with the tree trimming and wish everyone a merry Christmas, because "everybody is gonna get away with everything!"
Watch the full sketch below. Bonnie Kristian
At least eight people were killed and dozens more wounded, nine critically, on Sunday in a suicide attack on a Methodist church in Quetta, Pakistan, close to the Afghan border. Four attackers targeted the church, but only one detonated his suicide vest. Another was killed in a gunfight with police, and two more were intercepted at the church door, preventing further casualties.
More than 400 people were at Bethel Memorial Methodist Church when the attack occurred, reported Sarfaraz Bugti, the regional home minister. They were attending a Christmas service. The attack has yet to be publicly linked to a specific terrorist organization. Bonnie Kristian