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President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the G-7 summit, Saturday, June 9, 2018, in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

US blacklisted 28 Chinese companies

The US Trump administration has blacklisted 28 Chinese companies accused of violating the human rights of Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province. There are allegations that about one million Uighur Muslims are detained in rehabilitation centers and China said they are participating in vocational training programs to eliminate extremism. It is also reported that the …

Ashlyn Myers, Life St. Louis, , Planned Parenthood staff member , Trump administration, family planning clinics

Trump abortion rule prompts exit at family planning program

The Trump administration’s ban on taxpayer-funded family planning clinics referring women for abortions prompted a major provider in Maine to announce Tuesday it is dropping out of the program after nearly 50 years. Others may follow. “It is objectionable that the federal government is so arrogant as to dictate what our medical professionals can and …

FILE - In this June 21, 2018 file photo, protesters and media gather outside a closed gate at the Port of Entry facility, where tent shelters are being used to house separated family members in Fabens, Texas. The tumult of the past week along the southern border crystalized how the GOP has shifted from the “compassionate” conservatism George W. Bush articulated to win the presidency twice, buoyed by the support of 44 percent of Latinos in 2004. Instead, wrenching photos and audio of the U.S. government separating migrant children from their parents symbolize the tense relationship between Latinos and the White House in the Trump era. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

Chaos on the border inflames GOP’s split with Latinos

When more than 1,000 Latino officials __ a crop of up-and-coming representatives from a fast-growing demographic __ gathered in Phoenix last week, no one from the Trump administration was there to greet them. It marked the first time a presidential administration skipped the annual conference of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials in at …

ri Lanka - United States - Flags

US assures support for SL to fulfil HR commitments

The United States has announced that the US will continue to support and engage with Sri Lanka to fulfil its commitments made to the international community to advance the cause of reconciliation and lasting peace in the country. In a statement, the US Embassy in Colombo said Ambassador Atul Keshap has yesterday met with senior …

In this June 7, 2018, photo, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., takes questions from reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Ryan said Thursday he’s not comfortable with a Trump administration policy that separates children from their parents at the southern border and said Congress should step in to fix the problem. “We don’t want kids to be separated from their parents,” Ryan said, adding that the policy is being dictated by a court ruling that prevents children who enter the country illegally from being held in custody for long periods. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Ryan not comfortable with separating parents, kids at border

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he’s not comfortable with a Trump administration policy that separates children and parents at the southern border, as House Republicans, under increasing pressure to address the humanitarian crisis, raced to finish a new immigration bill. “We don’t want kids to be separated from their parents,” Ryan said, adding that …

Types Into A Keyboard - Cyber Attack

US hits Russian firms with sanctions, citing cyberattacks

The Trump administration on Monday slapped sanctions on several Russian companies and businessmen for engaging in cyberattacks and assisting Russia’s military and intelligence services with other malicious activities. The Treasury Department said it was imposing sanctions on five Russian firms and three executives from one of them under legislation passed last year and an executive …

Steven Mnuchin

G7 asks Mnuchin to convey ‘concern’ on tariffs

Finance leaders of the closest U.S. allies vented anger over the Trump administration’s metal import tariffs on Saturday, ending a three-day meeting with a stern rebuke of Washington and setting up a heated fight at a G7 summit next week in Quebec. In a rare show of division among the normally harmonious club of wealthy …

Social Media

US wants social media history for visa applications

The Trump administration has said it wants to start collecting the social media history of nearly everyone seeking a visa to enter the US. The proposal, if approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), would require most immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants to list all social media identities they have used in the …

People walk near the U.S. State Department in Washington, Monday, March 26, 2018. The White House says the expulsion of Russian diplomats and closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle will “make the United States safer.” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says in a statement that President Donald Trump is responding to “Russia’s use of a military-grade chemical weapon on the soil of the United Kingdom.” She says the move will reduce “Russia’s ability to spy on Americans and to conduct covert operations that threaten America’s national security.” (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Diplomats ousted: US, Europe punish Russia over spy case

The United States and more than a dozen European nations kicked out Russian diplomats on Monday and the Trump administration ordered Russia’s consulate in Seattle to close, as the West sought joint punishment for Moscow’s alleged poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain.

Warning of an “unacceptably high” number of Russian spies in the U.S., the Trump administration said 60 diplomats would be expelled — all Russian intelligence agents working under diplomatic cover, the U.S. said. The group includes a dozen posted to Russia’s mission to the United Nations who the officials said were engaged in “aggressive collection” of intelligence on American soil.

The move was one of the most significant actions President Donald Trump’s administration has taken to date to punish Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin, especially over its intelligence activities. The last time they spoke, less than a week ago, Trump congratulated Putin for his re-election but didn’t raise the March 4 spy poisoning, Russia’s alleged election-meddling in the U.S. or its own tainted voting process, prompting dismayed critiques even from Trump’s fellow Republicans.

“This is the largest expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in United States history,” said U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman.

The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, on Monday said 14 member nations were expelling Russian diplomatic staff over the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Britain. (March 26)

The American penalties were echoed by announcements in European capitals across the continent, including those in Russia’s backyard. All told, 18 countries were ousting more than 100 Russian spies, British Prime Minister Theresa May said, in addition to 23 already kicked out by the U.K.

The list included at least 16 European Union nations, with more likely to follow. Germany, Poland and France each planned to boot four, the Czech Republic three and Italy two. Ukraine, a non-EU country with its own conflicts with Moscow, was expelling 13 Russians, President Petro Poroshenko said. All three Baltic states said they would kick diplomats out. Canada, too, said it was taking action, kicking out four and denying three who have applied to enter the country.

Almost all of the countries said publicly that the Russian diplomats they were expelling were actually spies.

The expulsions came with a chorus of condemnation for the Kremlin — for the poisoning, Russian spying and other Western grievances. Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz called it “the right response to the unfriendly, aggressive actions of Russia.” In the Czech Republic, where Russian officials have claimed the poison may have originated, Prime Minister Andrej Babis dismissed that allegation as “an utter lie.”

In Washington, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, was summoned early Friday to the State Department and told that the 60 diplomats would have one week to leave the country, the State Department said. Russia’s Embassy in Washington responded on Twitter by hinting at retaliation, asking its followers to vote which U.S. consulate should be shuttered: St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg or Vladivostok.

Russia will likely respond quid pro quo using the “principle of reciprocity,” the Kremlin said — a suggestion that Russia may expel an equal number of diplomats.

Russia’s Consulate General in Seattle must close by April 2. The facility is a particular counter-intelligence concern to the U.S. because of its proximity to a U.S. Navy base, said the senior U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to be identified by name.

The U.S. actions appeared to signal an increased level of concern about the extent of Russian spying in the United States. Senior officials said they estimated Russia had roughly 100 intelligence officials at its diplomatic posts in the U.S., suggesting that dozens will remain even after the 60 are expelled.

“The United States and many of our friends are sending a clear message that we will not stand for Russia’s misconduct,” said U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Trump’s envoy to the U.N.

Britain had already expelled 23 Russian diplomats, accusing them of being undeclared intelligence agents, which led Russia to expel the same number of British diplomats. The European Union has already recalled its ambassador to Russia.

The steps on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean add to a serious escalation of tensions between Russia and the West that has been building since the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer convicted of spying for the U.K., and his daughter, Yulia. The two remain in critical condition and unconscious. A policeman who responded to their home was also injured.

Britain has accused Moscow of perpetrating the attack using a Soviet-developed nerve agent known as Novichok. The U.S., France and Germany have agreed it’s highly likely Russia was responsible. Russia’s government has denied responsibility and has blasted Britain’s investigation into the poisoning.

Monday’s expulsions appear to involve the largest number of Russians kicked out of the United States since 1986, when the Reagan administration expelled 55. The George W. Bush administration expelled 50 Russians in 2001 in retaliation for the Robert Hanssen spy case. In its waning days, the Obama administration expelled 35 over alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has repeatedly wavered on whether he believes Moscow was behind the election-meddling, despite assessments from U.S. intelligence agencies and the special counsel investigation into Russia’s actions and potential collusion with Trump’s campaign. But this month, Trump’s administration hit Russians with its first sanctions for the campaign interference, and also accused Moscow of an elaborate plot to hack America’s electric grid and key infrastructure.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Associated Press writers Matthew Lee in Washington, Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, Raf Casert in Brussels, Jill Lawless in London, Sylvia Corbett in Paris, Monika Scislowska in Warsaw and Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

The U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class maritime security cutter USCGC Bertholf

Exclusive: U.S. prepares high-seas crackdown on North Korea sanctions evaders – sources

The Trump administration and key Asian allies are preparing to expand interceptions of ships suspected of violating sanctions on North Korea, a plan that could include deploying U.S. Coast Guard forces to stop and search vessels in Asia-Pacific waters, senior U.S. officials said. Washington has been talking to regional partners, including Japan, South Korea, Australia …

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