Despite the ceasefire agreed to by Russia

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ukraine’s ceasefire grows more fragile. The White House will appeal the block on Obama’s executive order on immigration. People aren’t paying off their student loans as quickly as other debt. And Snapchat is worth a lot of money.

Here are the top stories

Ukraine ceasefire under pressure. Ukrainian troops have withdrawn from the east Ukrainian town of Debaltseve, a strategic railway junction that has been the scene of fierce fighting since the ceasefire agreement that began Sunday. The capture of the town by Russian-backed rebels “is a humiliating setback for (Ukrainian President) Poroshenko, who for weeks denied rebel claims that the town was surrounded,” BuzzFeed News foreign correspondent Max Seddon reports from Kiev, Ukraine. Rebels say the ceasefire, negotiated by Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France at a summit in Belarus last week, does not apply to Debaltseve, which links the two rebel-controlled regions of eastern Ukraine. The U.S. has accused Russia of violating the ceasefire.

Max Avdeev / BuzzFeed NewsMax Avdeev / BuzzFeed News

Photographer Max Avdeev embeds with the rebel fighters known as the First Slavyansk Brigade in Logvinove, Ukraine, to capture the horrific sights of conflict for BuzzFeed News. Warning: Several of the images in this gallery are NSFW and extremely graphic.

White House to appeal blocked immigration action. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has suspended plans to begin accepting deportation deferments requests, which would have begun today. The executive action would have shielded more than 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, but a new court ruling blocking it has left some unauthorized immigrants in legal limbo.


What's going on? President Obama decided to bypass Congress and take executive action on immigration in November, announcing a plan that would shield some undocumented immigrants from deportation through the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the creation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. The new DAPA program would include a group of almost 4 million parents of U.S. citizens and green-card holders.

Two days before the Department of Homeland Security was scheduled to begin accepting applications for deportation deferment under the DACA expansion, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the programs should be put on hold. The 26 states in the lawsuit, led by Texas, argued that Obama’s executive action would lead to more undocumented immigration and force the states to “spend money on law enforcement, health care, and education for those protected.”

P.S. Overturning Obama’s actions on immigration is a top priority for GOP lawmakers, the Wall Street Journal writes. They’re using the extension of DHS funding, which expires Feb. 27, as leverage in the battle with congressional Democrats.     

We’re keeping an eye on

Greece seeking loan extension. Under pressure from its eurozone partners to meet a Friday deadline, Greece is preparing to seek an extension of a loan agreement — not a continuation of the existing bailout. Greece’s current bailout, which expires at the end of the month, forced the country to adopt harsh austerity measures and unpopular reforms including wage cuts and reduced pensions. The economy has shrunk by a quarter in the last five years, and unemployment is above 25 percent.

What we’re waiting on: Whether its 18 partners in the eurozone will accept the request before the Friday deadline, or Greece will risk defaulting on its loans and potentially become the first country to leave the eurozone.

You may have missed

The Justice Department may take up Ferguson. “In weighing whether to bring discrimination charges against the Ferguson Police Department, the Justice Department has been ‘seriously examining’ allegations that the city’s enforcement of minor offenses discriminated against minorities and often led to jail times and fines that lined the city’s coffers, a law enforcement official confirmed to POLITICO.”

More people are paying off their debt on time — except for student loans. People are getting less likely to fall behind on their mortgages or credit card bills, according to new data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. But student loans are the big exception. Student debts now add up to some $1.16 trillion in outstanding balances, outpacing any form of of non-home consumer debt, and is by far the highest share of delinquencies of any type of consumer debt.

There’s a lot of snow in New England. In Boston, prisoners, police cadets, and union workers are shoveling snow as the city’s budget for snow removal can’t keep up with the 59.1 total inches of snow just this month, making it the snowiest month on record for the city. Boston’s mayor pleaded with residents who keep jumping out of their homes onto snowbanks: “I’m asking people to stop their nonsense right now. These are adults jumping out windows.” Here are 24 pictures that capture the insane amounts of snow in the region.

Hurry spring.
via Twitter user @Leesahanne

19 billion dollars is a lot of money. Snapchat is raising a round of venture capital that could value the company at up to $19 billion. That valuation would put it on par with WhatsApp, the messaging app that Facebook bought last year for $22 billion (Snapchat turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook in 2013). Only a couple privately held companies are worth that much: Uber at $40 billion and the Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi at $45 billion.

But can you use Snapchat on a flip phone? Flip phones are making a comeback in Japan. For the first time in seven years, Japanese shipments of traditional flip-phones rose in 2014 while smartphone shipments fell.

Happy Wednesday

They’re all winners to us! Miss P, a beagle, may have won Best in Show, Tuesday evening at the Westminster Dog Show, but all the dogs who competed are seriously cute. We ranked the 20 cutest.

Jean Gauvhat-Hargis fluffs Cubit, a keeshond, in the benching area on Monday. AP Photo/Mary AltafferJean Gauvhat-Hargis fluffs Cubit, a keeshond, in the benching area on Monday. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

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