On The Precipice Of War With Russia (Michael Snyder)

Matthew 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

Important Takeaways:

  • 10 Signs That Indicate That The U.S., The UK, Israel And NATO All Believe That We Are On The Precipice Of War With Russia
  • #1 The U.S. State Department has issued a formal travel advisory warning that Americans should stay out of Ukraine
  • #2 The U.S. and the UK are both reducing embassy staffing levels in Kyiv
  • #3 Family members of U.S. embassy personnel in Kyiv are being evacuated
  • #4 Israel is planning a “mass evacuation” of Jewish people from Ukraine
  • #5 CNN is reporting that as many as “8,500 US troops have been put on heightened alert for a possible deployment to Eastern Europe”
  • #6 The New York Times is reporting that the Biden administration is also considering sending “warships and aircraft” into the region.
  • #7 Other western European nations are also preparing to send forces to eastern Europe…
  • #8 A British news source is reporting that “hundreds of military trains packed with Russian troops” have been moving into Belarus.
  • #9 UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is alleging that the Russians are planning a “lightning war that could take out Kyiv”
  • #10 The U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office has announced that they have obtained information “suggesting that the Russian government is plotting to install a pro-Kremlin leader in Kyiv”

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Mexico, U.S. to launch joint plan to contain Central America migration

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The Mexican and U.S. international development agencies will work together on a project in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador aimed at alleviating the root causes of migration, Mexico’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Dubbed “Planting Opportunities,” the project will bring together the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (Amexcid) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to target the so-called Northern Triangle countries of Central America.

Migration from the three countries has fueled record numbers of people being apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, and both Mexico and the United States have vowed to tackle the deeper problems behind higher migration levels.

Mexico’s foreign ministry did not detail how much funding will be allocated for the scheme in its statement.

The U.S.-Mexico collaboration will begin in Honduras, with an effort to teach job skills to more than 500,000 at-risk youth, the ministry said.

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Dave Graham)

 

U.S., Russia hold nuclear talks in Geneva after summit push

By Stephanie Nebehay and Jonathan Landay

GENEVA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Senior U.S. and Russian officials on Wednesday restarted talks on easing tensions between the world’s largest nuclear weapons powers and agreed to reconvene in September after informal consultations, the State Department said.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov headed their delegations at the meeting at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Geneva.

TASS news agency cited Ryabkov as saying he was satisfied with the consultations and that the United States showed readiness for a constructive dialogue at the talks.

Armed with mandates from their leaders, it was the first time in nearly a year that the sides had held so-called strategic stability talks amid frictions over a range of issues, including arms control.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose countries hold 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons, agreed in June to launch a bilateral dialogue on strategic stability to “lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures”.

After informal consultations aimed at “determining topics for expert working groups” in the next round, the two sides agreed to reconvene in late September, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Calling the discussions “professional and substantive,” he said the U.S. side discussed its policy priorities, the current international security environment, “the prospects for new nuclear arms control” and the format for further talks.

The decision to meet again showed the sides understand the need to resolve arms control disputes, a senior State Department official said, that have seen an end to several Cold War-era treaties, including one that limited intermediate-range missiles.

“We know we have a responsibility as the largest nuclear weapons states to find a way to improve strategic stability to deal with a deteriorating arms control architecture,” the official briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

That includes dealing with threats posed by “new emerging technologies that can upset strategic stability,” the official said.

Such new threats could include artificial intelligence-controlled weapons, possible cyber attacks on existing nuclear weapons systems and more esoteric arms such as highly maneuverable aerial or submerged hypersonic weapons that can evade defenses.

Andrey Baklitskiy, senior research fellow at the Center for Advanced American Studies at Moscow State Institute of International Relations, told reporters in Geneva: “We are starting with a new U.S. administration, starting pretty much from scratch.

“It’s just meet and greet and try to establish some basic understandings,” he said.

Russia and the United States in February extended for five years the bilateral New START nuclear arms control treaty days before it was set to expire.

The treaty limits the numbers of strategic nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers that Russia and the United States can deploy.

The two sides had been expected to discuss which weapons systems and technologies are of greatest concern.

“For example, Russia still has concerns with U.S. modification of heavy bombers and launchers to launch ballistic missiles, and that’s been there for a while now,” Baklitskiy said.

The Biden administration has asserted that Russia has engaged unilaterally in low-yield nuclear testing, in violation of a nuclear testing moratorium, he said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay. Additional reporting by Jonathan Landay in Washington; Editing by Peter Graff and Alistair Bell)

Pandemic picking up speed in half of the Americas: PAHO director

By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA (Reuters) – New coronavirus cases are picking up again in half of the countries in the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday, calling on Brazil to protect its people in the face of record infections and deaths.

Brazil is now reporting the highest number of new infections in the region, PAHO director Carissa Etienne said. Several areas of Brazil are witnessing record-high infections, and hospital beds are nearly at capacity across more than half of Brazilian states.

Brazil on Tuesday reported a record 2,841 deaths in 24 hours, as the incoming health minister pledged to continue the controversial policies of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has downplayed the severity of the disease.

“The situation in Brazil is a cautionary tale that keeping this virus under control requires continuous attention by public health authorities and leaders to protect people and health systems from the devastating impact of this virus,” Etienne said.

According to a Reuters tally, Latin America has recorded around 22.9 million coronavirus cases, and 722,000 deaths, almost double the toll of Asia and Africa combined.

The news out of North America was mixed as the vaccine rollout in the United States gained momentum. The United States and Mexico are reporting a drop in new infections, though cases in Canada are accelerating, particularly among young adults ages 20 to 39, Etienne said.

But she said vaccines are limited and supplies face a bottleneck, with only two manufacturers providing shots through the World Health Organization and Gavi coalition’s COVAX facility to provide equitable access for poorer nations.

So far, nearly 138 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the Americas, although just 28 million of those shots were given in Latin America and the Caribbean.

New infections are decelerating in the Caribbean, but some islands are seeing the number of COVID-19 deaths double, she said.

Cases were rising in Uruguay, Ecuador and Venezuela in the last week, while Paraguay’s health system issued an urgent warning as hospitals filled up with COVID-19 patients, Etienne said.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Franklin Paul and Bill Berkrot)

Uber promises 100% electric vehicles by 2040, commits $800 million to help drivers switch

By Tina Bellon

(Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc on Tuesday said every vehicle on its global ride-hailing platform will be electric by 2040, and it vowed to contribute $800 million through 2025 to help drivers switch to battery-powered vehicles, including discounts for vehicles bought or leased from partner automakers.

Uber, which as of early February said it had 5 million drivers worldwide, said it formed partnerships with General Motors and the Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi alliance.

In addition to the vehicle discounts, Uber said the $800 million includes discounts for charging and a fare surcharge for electric and hybrid vehicles, the cost of which would be partially offset by an additional small fee charged to customers who request a “green trip.”

Uber said that vehicles on its rides platform in the United States, Canada and Europe will be zero-emission by 2030, taking advantage of the regulatory support and advanced infrastructure in those regions.

The deals with GM and the Renault alliance focus on the U.S., Canada and Europe. Uber said it was discussing partnerships with other automakers.

Uber’s plan follows years of criticism by environmental groups and city officials over the pollution and congestion caused by ride-hail vehicles and calls for fleet electrification.

Lyft Inc, Uber’s smaller U.S. rival, in June promised to switch to 100% electric vehicles by 2030, but said it would not provide direct financial support to drivers.

Uber said its goal is to reduce the overall cost of ownership for electric vehicles, which are currently more expensive than gasoline cars.

The company also released data on its emission footprint and said it would publish reports going forward.

Before the pandemic, electric cars accounted for only 0.15% of all U.S. and Canadian Uber trip miles – roughly in line with average U.S. electric car ownership. At around 12%, the share of plug-in hybrid and hybrid cars was roughly five times as high as the U.S. average.

Ride-hail trips overall account for less than 0.6% of transportation-sector emissions, according to U.S. data, but the total number of on-demand vehicles has significantly increased since Uber’s launch nearly a decade ago, with 7 billion trips last year, according to Uber’s February investor presentation.

Uber said its U.S. and Canadian trips with a passenger produce 41% more carbon dioxide per mile than an average private car once miles spent cruising between passengers are included.

Uber’s plans could be a boon to the auto industry. Stricter environmental regulation, particularly in Europe, is forcing automakers to invest billions to overhaul their operations while consumer demand for electric vehicles remains subdued. Uber is also working with BP, EVgo and other global charging providers to provide discounts and expand the location of charging stations for ride-hail drivers – generally considered a main hurdle to wider EV adoption. Beginning on Tuesday, all U.S. and Canadian Uber drivers in a fully battery-powered electric vehicle will receive $1 extra per trip, and an additional 50 cents in major U.S. cities if passengers choose to pay extra when booking a “green trip.”

(Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York; Editing by Peter Henderson and Leslie Adler)

U.S. appeals court blocks Texas curbs on medication abortion

By Lawrence Hurley

(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Monday blocked Texas from enforcing curbs on medication-induced abortions as part of the Republican-governed state’s restrictions aimed at postponing medical procedures not deemed urgent during the coronavirus pandemic.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a federal judge’s decision blocking the state from applying restrictions to abortions induced through medication to go into effect.

In an unsigned opinion, the three-judge panel said it was not clear if the state’s emergency order restricting abortion procedures covered medication-induced abortion.

Texas is one of several conservative states that have tried to impose limits on abortion during the pandemic, saying they are seeking to ensure that medical resources are available to help healthcare facilities cope with people with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

Abortion rights advocates have accused the states of political opportunism, exploiting the pandemic to advance anti-abortion policies.

The abortion providers challenging the Texas restrictions said medication abortion, which involves taking two pills by mouth, should not be halted because it is not a procedure at all and does not require the use of protective equipment.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung in New York and Lawrence Hurley in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

Fed cuts rates and NYC, LA close restaurants to fight coronavirus

By Lindsay Dunsmuir and Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With panic buying on Main Street and fear-driven sell-offs on Wall Street, the U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates to near zero on Sunday in another emergency move to help shore up the U.S. economy amid the rapidly escalating coronavirus pandemic.

The mayors of New York City and Los Angeles ordered restaurants, bars and cafes closed, with takeout and delivery the only options for food sales. Movie theaters, small theater houses and concert venues were also ordered closed as the U.S. death toll from the outbreak hit 65.

“The virus can spread rapidly through the close interactions New Yorkers have in restaurants, bars and places where we sit close together,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We have to break that cycle.”

For the second time since the financial crisis of 2008, the Fed cut rates at an emergency meeting, aiming for a target range of 0% to 0.25% to help put a floor under a rapidly disintegrating global economy.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who had openly pressed the Fed for further action, called the move “terrific” and “very good news.”

Store shelves have been stripped bare of essentials, schools closed and millions of jobs in jeopardy as businesses temporarily shut their doors.

“We’re learning from watching other countries,” Trump said. “It’s a very contagious virus … but it’s something that we have tremendous control of.”

Trump has faced criticism at home and abroad for sometimes downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus and overstating his administration’s ability to handle it.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said the United States was entering a new phase of coronavirus testing but tempered the president’s optimism.

“The worst is yet ahead for us,” Fauci said, a warning he has issued frequently in the past week. “It is how we respond to that challenge that is going to what the ultimate end point is going to be.”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said testing for coronavirus was expanding with more than 2,000 labs across the country ready to process tests and 10 states operating drive-through testing.

The United States has lagged behind other industrialized nations in its ability to test for the coronavirus. In early March, the Trump administration said close to 1 million coronavirus tests would soon be available and anyone who needed a test would get one, a promise it failed to keep.

With limited testing available, U.S. officials have recorded nearly 3,000 cases and 65 deaths, up from 58 on Saturday. Globally more than 162,000 are infected and over 6,000 have died.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control on Sunday recommended that events with gatherings of 50 or more people over the next eight weeks be postponed or canceled.

DON’T HOARD

The White House appealed to Americans not to hoard as the coronavirus spreads, reassuring them that grocery supply chains were strong.

Trump held a phone call on Sunday with 30 executives from grocery stores including Amazon.com Inc’s <AMZN.O> Whole Foods, Target Corp <TGT.N>, Costco Wholesale Corp <COST.O> and Walmart Inc <WMT.N>, the White House said.

“Have a nice dinner, relax because there’s plenty, but you don’t have to … you don’t have to buy the quantities,” Trump said. “We’re doing really, really well. A lot of good things are going to happen.”

Trump tested negative for coronavirus, his doctors said on Saturday, as the president extended a travel ban to Britain and Ireland to try to slow the pandemic.

Trump’s spokesman, Judd Deere, said temperature checks will be conducted on everyone who enters the White House grounds, beginning Monday morning.

Travelers returning to the United States and being screened for the coronavirus were met by long lines and massive delays at some major airports, prompting federal officials to deploy more staff and Trump to appeal for patience.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, squaring off in a Democratic debate, blasted Trump’s handling of the coronavirus and touted their own plans to deal with it.

In their first one-on-one debate, the two Democratic contenders to face Trump in the November election said the Republican president had contributed to worries about the pandemic by minimizing the threat before declaring a national emergency on Friday.

CLOSURES EXPAND

The U.S. containment measures have so far been mild compared to the nationwide lockdowns imposed in Italy, France and Spain.

“I think Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing,” Fauci said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Even though Americans are not barred from going to the movies, ticket sales in North America fell to their lowest level in more than two decades this weekend, according to measurement firm Comscore.

Democratic New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that schools in New York City, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties would close from Monday, and he called on Trump to mobilize the Army Corps of Engineers to create more hospital beds.

Cuomo had been criticized for not closing schools as other states have done, given that New York has a large cluster of coronavirus cases.

A clinical trial to evaluate a vaccine designed to protect against coronavirus will begin on Monday, the Associated Press reported, citing an unnamed U.S. government official.

It would take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine, the AP added, citing public health officials.

(For an interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.)

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu, Lindsay Dunsmuir, Andrea Shalal, Nandita Bose, Matt Spetalnick, Humeyra Pamuk, John Whitesides, Steve Holland in Washington; Writing by Lisa Shumaker and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Diane Craft, Lincoln Feast and Gerry Doyle.)

CDC reports 1,678 coronavirus cases, death tally of 41

(Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday reported 1,678 cases of the coronavirus, an increase of 414 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 5 to 41.

The agency said the cases had been reported by 46 states and the District of Columbia, up from its previous report of 42 states and the District of Columbia.

The CDC reported its tally of cases of the respiratory illness known as COVID-19, caused by a new coronavirus, as of 4 pm ET on March 12.

The CDC tally includes 49 cases among people repatriated from Japan and Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began.

The figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.

(Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

North Korea criticizes ‘hostile policy’ as U.S. diplomat visits South Korea

North Korea criticizes ‘hostile policy’ as U.S. diplomat visits South Korea
SEOUL (Reuters) – A U.S. report calling North Korea a sponsor of terrorism shows a “hostile policy” that prevents progress in denuclearization talks, the isolated nation said on Tuesday, as a senior U.S. diplomat was set to arrive in the neighboring South.

North Korea accused the United States of failing to show flexibility after a breakdown last month in the first talks between their officials since President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed in June to reopen negotiations.

“The channel of dialogue between the DPRK and the U.S. is more and more narrowing due to such attitude,” North Korean state news agency KCNA said, citing a Foreign Ministry official, and using the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

It said a U.S. State Department report on terrorism “proves once again” that U.S. rejection of North Korea indicated “a hostile policy”.

The agency was referring to “Country Reports on Terrorism 2018”, issued last week, which reaffirmed North Korea’s re-designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Tuesday’s statement came ahead of a visit to Seoul by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell, who is expected to discuss the stalled talks with North Korea, as well as the South’s decision to end an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan.

“I look forward to productive meetings with your government so we can reaffirm the security alliance as the cornerstone of the peace and security here in the region,” Stilwell told reporters late on Tuesday upon arrival at Incheon airport.

U.S. officials did not describe Stilwell’s agenda in detail, but said he would discuss the strength of the U.S.-South Korea alliance and cooperation across foreign policies.

Washington has urged South Korea to rethink a decision to end an intelligence-sharing agreement scrapped in an escalating political and economic dispute with Japan.

On Tuesday, Kim In-chul, a spokesman for South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, said there was no change in its stance not to renew the intelligence-sharing pact, however.

The top U.S. negotiator in defense cost-sharing talks with South Korea, James DeHart, was also set to arrive in Seoul on Tuesday, a South Korean Foreign Ministry official said.

In April, North Korean leader Kim said the country would give Washington until the end of the year to be “more flexible” in denuclearization talks, but state media have since given only vague warnings about what will happen if the deadline expires.

The United States and North Korea could hold another round of working-level talks as soon as mid-November, South Korean lawmaker Lee Eun-jae said on Monday after a briefing by Seoul’s National Intelligence Service.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; additional reporting by Daewoung Kim and Chaeyoun Won; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien, Clarence Fernandez and Alison Williams)

U.S. ground troops will not enforce Syria safe zone: defense secretary

U.S. ground troops will not enforce Syria safe zone: defense secretary
By Idrees Ali

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday that no U.S. troops will take part in enforcing the so-called safe zone in northern Syria and the United States “is continuing our deliberate withdrawal from northeastern Syria.”

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan earlier on Friday said Turkey will set up a dozen observation posts across northeast Syria, insisting that a planned “safe zone” will extend much further than U.S. officials said was covered under a fragile ceasefire deal.

The truce, announced by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Erdogan, sets out a five-day pause to let the Kurdish-led SDF militia pull out of the Turkish “safe zone.”

The deal was aimed at easing a crisis that saw President Donald Trump order a hasty and unexpected U.S. retreat, which his critics say amounted to abandoning loyal Kurdish allies that fought for years alongside U.S. troops against Islamic State.

“No U.S. ground forces will participate in the enforcement of the safe zone, however we will remain in communication with both Turkey and the SDF,” Esper told reporters, referring to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

He will be traveling to the Middle East and Brussels in the coming days to discuss issues including the future of counter-Islamic State campaign.

Esper said he had spoken with his Turkish counterpart on Friday and reiterated that Ankara must adhere to the ceasefire deal and ensure safety of people in areas controlled by Turkish forces.

“Protecting religious and ethnic minorities in the region continues to be a focus for the administration. This ceasefire is a much needed step in protecting those vulnerable populations,” Esper said.

He added that he reminded Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar of Turkey’s responsibility for maintaining security of the Islamic State prisoners in areas affected by Turkey’s incursion.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the United States would continue aerial surveillance in northeastern Syria to monitor prisons holding alleged Islamic State militants.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; editing by Grant McCool and Cynthia Osterman)