Tanks for Ukraine are ‘ready to go’ when Germany and US strike a deal, retired Navy Adm. says

class=”MuiTypography-root-142 MuiTypography-h1-147″>Tanks for Ukraine are 'ready to go' when Germany and US strike a deal, retired Navy Adm. says

As Germany faces mounting pressure to supply tanks to Kyiv for the ongoing war in Ukraine, retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis talks with The World's host Marco Werman about what the delivery of heavy weapons could mean for the war.

The WorldJanuary 19, 2023 · 3:30 PM EST

Denmark's military officers stand next to a Leopard 2A7 tank at the Tapa Military Camp, in Estonia, Jan. 19, 2023.

Pavel Golovkin/AP

Germany has faced mounting pressure to supply Leopard 2 battle tanks to Kyiv as the war in Ukraine rages on — or to clear the way for other countries, such as Poland, to deliver German-made Leopards from their own stocks.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin plans to host a regular coordination meeting of Ukraine's Western allies at the United States' Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday.

Western leaders have been cautious in their approach to Ukraine’s repeated requests over the past few months for heavier vehicles, including Leopard, as well as American Abrams tanks.

Meanwhile, Berlin has said that it will send its vehicles only after the US sends its tanks.

The World's host Marco Werman speaks with retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis, who is the former NATO supreme allied commander, about how a delivery of tanks would make a difference.

Marco Werman: Admiral James Stavridis, what kind of impact will this decision make?Adm. James Stavridis: A huge impact for several reasons. First of all, the Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers, many, many thousands probably, were destroyed. So, Russia is tank- and armored-personnel-carrier poor at the moment. Number two, if Russia mounts a spring offensive using these newly mobilized foot soldiers, infantry, those are very juicy targets for tanks and armored personnel carriers.So, Germany is facing a lot of pressure this week to send tanks to Ukraine. Why is the German-made Leopard tank especially wanted in Ukraine?First, because it's a pretty heavy tank. It's not quite as big as the Abrams tank. The Leopard is a big, strong, tough tank, but it's relatively simple to operate, compared to, for example, an Abrams. And, most importantly, it's widely distributed across the native nations. Germany has exported many of these to the Baltic states, to many former Warsaw Pact countries. So, there's a lot of expertise, training, a lot of inventory, and therefore, they are highly desired by the Ukrainians. They're in theater, they're ready to go, not a lot of training required.Well, yesterday, German officials said they won't send Leopard tanks unless the US sends Abrams. What do you make of that?I think it's part of an ongoing conversation. And at the end of the day, I would guess that our German colleagues will say, "You know, we would like to put the Leopards out there." And part of this, by the way, is for the Germans to give permission to the other European nations who hold these Leopard tanks to give them, as well as some German Leopards, I think that the Germans ultimately will acquiesce in a deal where we, the US and the Canadians, put a large number of armored personnel carriers. They provide the tanks. That's a pretty good deal.Well, the US is providing Ukraine with other heavy-duty weapons of war. Why is the US hesitant to provide tanks?What has held us back, not only not an obvious military need, which is emerging now, but secondly, we have always in this conflict, tried to use the minimal amount of weapons systems so that we could avoid escalating the war and leading to a direct conflict between NATO and Russia. But I think we hit the point now where the tanks are a necessity, given where we are in the battle.Yes so, why would a tank specifically imply a greater involvement in the war than, say, the Patriot missile system?Marco, I don't think it does. And this has been, I think, kind of a false assumption out of the West. It was taken out of an abundance of caution. I understand that. I think it made a higher degree of sense, say, 10, 11 months ago, when you could have envisioned an outcome where [Russian President Vladimir] Putin got knocked back, then we had a negotiation, we could avoid an escalation. I think we're past that point now, unfortunately. And therefore, yeah Patriots, yeah tanks, I would say, yeah fighter aircraft. That's the next conversation that's going to happen.Can you talk more about that? I mean, that seems a really deep commitment in this war.We are at the point where the Western side needs to say to itself, "Are we going to give the Ukrainians control over their skies?" And to do that, we've already provided surface-to-air missiles. We provided the Patriot batteries, we provided drones. The one big thing we haven't given them is combat aircraft. And by providing them, say MiG-29s, which the Poles own and operate and are willing to give to the Ukrainians, who've been trained in flying those specific airframes, we should do that, in my view, because that will further shut down Vladimir Putin's options. Right now, he's using air control in order to strike Ukrainian targets, and all over Ukraine. And there are war crimes against the electric grid, the water supplies, against civilians in apartment buildings, aircraft could help stop that. We ought to provide them those aircraft.But, I mean, any of these options, starting with a tank deal, would you see that as another step closer to direct war between Russia and NATO?No, I don't think it significantly elevates the chances, because you still don't have NATO soldiers, sailors, airmen actually conducting the combat. These are still Ukrainians conducting the combat. And, as you postulated a moment ago, in the end, giving a Ukrainian a rifle is merely a matter of degree in how you're attacking Russian forces, than giving them a Patriot missile or a tank. So, I think the earlier ideas of doing this in a very measured, incremental way, I think that's fading as we look at Russian intransigence, Russian war crimes, very clear intent of Vladimir Putin to continue to prosecute this unjust war. And don't forget that Putin could stop this tomorrow. It's this idea that somehow we're provoking Russia, which is kind of magical thinking. It's Putin that's invaded here. We need to give the Ukrainians what they need to stop it.So, Admiral, as he said, that the German Leopard tank doesn't require a lot of training. It's already in-theater. If a deal is struck, some kind of agreement between Germany, the US and Ukraine, how soon could you see delivery of these tanks' deployment into the battlefield?Days, and certainly within weeks. This is primed, ready to go. And by the way, my contacts in European militaries, there is a great deal of enthusiasm for getting these weapons in the hands of the Ukrainians. It's a political decision that needs to be made.I mean, in a modern war where we've seen drones play such a key role, remotely operated, does it surprise you, that this historical piece of equipment, like a tank, is so important right now?It doesn't surprise me. And the logical question would be, well, what happened to all of those Russian tanks a year ago? Because a lot of them were destroyed by drones. That's why this marriage of an old weapon, the tank, with these new weapons, the drones, I think is going to be very powerful against the Russians.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.

Related: How well is the grain deal working for Ukraine?

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Email AddressEmail AddressSubscribeI have read and agree to your Privacy Policy.Related ContentHow well is the grain deal working for Ukraine?Ukrainians celebrate Orthodox Christmas amid raging war War in Ukraine sparks fertilizer crisis that may impact the future of global food production This Vermont couple created a home for Ukrainian refugees with a focus on children with disabilities

Ana Montes memorized classified US documents to leak to Cuban officials, author says

class=”MuiTypography-root-142 MuiTypography-h1-147″>Ana Montes memorized classified US documents to leak to Cuban officials, author says

Ana Montes, who worked for the US defense department, was simultaneously spying for Cuban authorities. She's now been released after her 25-year prison sentence. Jim Popkin, who's written about her, shares her story with The World's host Marco Werman.

The WorldJanuary 9, 2023 · 3:30 PM EST

The Pentagon is seen from Air Force One as it flies over Washington, March 2, 2022.

Patrick Semansky/AP/File photo

There are few spies who have burrowed more deeply into the US government than Ana Montes. She was a senior analyst with the Pentagon, and her specialty was Cuba.

But here's the twist: Montes was spying for Cuba. She memorized US state secrets and got them to the regime of former President Fidel Castro.

In 2001, she was caught and sentenced to 25 years in a US federal prison. But now, she's been released.

Jim Popkin has written a book about Montes called, "Code Name Blue Wren: The True Story of America's Most Dangerous Female Spy—and the Sister she Betrayed." He joined The World's host Marco Werman to discuss the ins and outs of the story.

Marco Werman: Jim, let's start with a little background. Briefly, who is Anna Montes? Where is she from originally?Jim Popkin: She's an American, went to the University of Virginia and slowly became, kind of, politically radicalized. She ultimately joined the American intelligence community and an agency called the DIA, or the Defense Intelligence Agency, which is kind of like a CIA for the US military. It was there where, for nearly 17 years, she secretly spied on behalf of the Castro regime in Cuba.So, how did Cuban intelligence kind of cotton on to Montes?It happened in her graduate school. She went to Johns Hopkins [University], and there was another student there, also an American of Puerto Rican descent, as is Ana. She had already been recruited by the Cubans. And when she met Ana and realized that they were like-minded, shared the same political views, she reached out, befriended her, and ultimately introduced her to a Cuban intelligence officer in New York. She was really an ideological spy motivated by politics, and they were on their way as fully recruited Cuban spies.So, she became something of a star at the Defense Intelligence Agency, this branch of the Pentagon. What kind of information was she feeding back to Cuba?She had almost carte blanche access to classified documents. She would quietly and studiously memorize them in her bookshelf. On Ana's bookshelf, I found a book on memory and how to improve your memory. And then her nighttime job would begin in her apartment, where she would type out on a Toshiba laptop all the classified secrets that she had learned that day. She was able to transmit just volumes of classified material to the Cubans. And the Cubans have a track record of selling or trading this kind of information to the Russians and others. So, it didn't just end in Cuba.So, a US official has described Ana Montes as one of the most damaging spies ever caught by the US. What price did the US pay for her espionage?First of all, she revealed the true identities of American operatives, primarily CIA officers. And then she also revealed the existence and details on a very secretive stealth satellite. It went by the code name Misty. That satellite alone was multiple billions of dollars in development.Jim, one of the remarkable things about the story is Ana Montes' family. Who is her sister?Her sister is Lucy Montes. Within weeks of Ana agreeing to spy for Cuba, Lucy Montes completely coincidentally applied for and was accepted with a job working for the FBI. She was assigned to a unit dedicated to finding Cuban spies.Wow. Did you ever get to speak with Montes or her sister? And, I mean, what did you take away?I interviewed Lucy extensively and other Montes family members. Ana was prevented from speaking to the media while she was in prison. Interestingly, just the other day, she just got out of prison. She is now living in Puerto Rico, and she issued a statement. She's not interested in talking to the media. But for me, what's fascinating is, this is a woman who is completely unrepentant.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Related: American lawmakers accuse China of spying on dissidents in the US

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Email AddressEmail AddressSubscribeI have read and agree to your Privacy Policy.Related ContentUS aims to ‘amplify Africa’s voice’ as leaders gather for summit in DC, Amb. Thomas-Greenfield saysChina has a police network that stretches across some 30 countries, NGO says‘We want Africa to take its place’: African leaders call for more representation at UN Security CouncilIn Catalonia, ruling separatist parties split, signaling end of an era

US aims to ‘amplify Africa’s voice’ as leaders gather for summit in DC, Amb. Thomas-Greenfield says

class=”MuiTypography-root-330 jss308 MuiTypography-h1-335″>US aims to ‘amplify Africa’s voice’ as leaders gather for summit in DC, Amb. Thomas-Greenfield saysThe WorldDecember 13, 2022 · 3:00 PM EST

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, center left, meet with Angolan President Joao Lourenco during the US Africa Leaders Summit 2022, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, in Washington.

Evelyn Hockstein/AP/Pool

Dozens of Africa's most powerful politicians are gathered in Washington, DC, this week for a three-day US-Africa Leaders Summit, which kicked off on Tuesday.

Heads of states from 49 African nations and the African Union have been invited to take part in the summit that has been billed as an opportunity for President Joe Biden’s administration to reengage the continent’s leaders.

Vice President Kamala Harris welcomed attendees this morning, promising a partnership based on candor and openness.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, is front and center at the conference. She sat down to talk with The World's host Marco Werman about some of the challenges the US faces in deepening ties with the continent, while countering the expanding roles there of Beijing and Moscow.

Regarding summit goals, Thomas-Greenfield described four main areas of focus:

"We really want to deepen and expand our partnership and to advance our shared priorities. We want to really amplify Africa's voice, both in our bilateral relationship, but also multilaterally. And then third, I think just to leverage the best of the United States, we're bringing the private sector in, we're bringing in civil society, we're bringing in our diaspora community that I'm going to be speaking with shortly. And really, our goal is to uplift our relationship with the continent," she said.

Marco Werman: As you well know, China has long been Africa's big trading partner. Countries like Russia also have made inroads on the continent selling arms and sending mercenaries. Turkey and the United Arab Emirates also have expanded their presence. What's Washington offering that's different?Linda Thomas-Greenfield: You know, I don't know that we are different. We have been engaged with the African continent since the beginning. The US is one of the first countries to recognize African countries who were gaining independence, if we go back even to Ghana, in 1957. And we have never had a relationship of colonialism with the continent of Africa. We have been a strong supporter of human rights on the continent of Africa. African Americans, as well as others, were a strong voice of support for South Africa. China is new to this game on the continent. They have come to the conclusion that they need to focus attention on Africa because Africa is kind of the last frontier — resources — and the last frontier of untapped possibilities. But what they are doing on the continent of Africa, as we see it, they are putting these countries in debt. They're providing infrastructure that many of us have seen that crumbles within a few years. They have a relationship, although they try to argue that it's a relationship of equal partners, we have all seen the extent to which they are able to threaten African countries, including using their debt as a weapon against these countries. Our relationship is really very different. It really is one based on partnership. It is one that is based on a deep and abiding support for the people of Africa. We do engage with governments. We know the importance of those bilateral relationships, but our relationship people-to-people is very different from what the Chinese have been able to achieve. So, while there is clearly a competition, we think the US is ahead of the game.I mean, China has also brought many improvements to a lot of countries and some prosperity, which those countries are happy with. So, is that going to change?We're not telling Africans not to engage with China. We're not choosing their friends for them or their partners for them. What we're doing is reaffirming our relationship with the continent of Africa and the values that we present to the continent and the value of the relationship and partnership we have. If Africans make the decision that they want to engage with the Chinese, our goal is to help them get the best deal that they can possibly get, and they're not getting that right now.Do you worry, though, that maybe we're entering an era of another great powers rivalry in Africa?I don't think we are. I think we are in a place on the continent where Africans themselves know their value, they know their potential, and they're willing to work with countries and particularly with the United States, as they've indicated to us, they have a preference for working with the United States to build prosperity for the future. And again, it's going to be up to Africans themselves to decide that. But we're willing to partner with them.President Biden is expected to announce $55 billion in initiatives for Africa over the next three years during the summit. How can you be sure, ambassador, that Washington does not put some of that money into the pockets of authoritarians and those who support them? We have embassies and USAID missions in almost every country on the continent, and part of our jobs in embassies is to monitor and to ensure that the money that we're providing to countries actually go to the needs that have been identified. And I think we do an extraordinarily good job at that.Will the president be meeting one-on-one with any heads of state during the summit? He's going to be meeting with a number of leaders in group sessions. As you know, there are 49 leaders here, and we're looking for opportunities for him to engage with as many of them as possible during the summit.And so, how will the president parse out his messages to these various leaders? Because yesterday we spoke with a Ugandan opposition activist who argued that by inviting authoritarian leaders to this summit — and there are several of them of varying degrees of authoritarianism — the US is sending the wrong message to pro-democracy activists in Africa. So, what would you say about that?You know, I think it's really important that we engage with those countries, even those ones where we have differences, because that gives us the opportunity to press them on those issues. I do believe that we will use this as an opportunity to deliver tough messages. You can't deliver a tough message if you're not engaging.US officials have been quoted saying President Biden supports both a seat for an African nation on the UN Security Council and allowing the African Union to join the G20 as a permanent member. What can you tell us about that, ambassador, and why do you think it would make a difference?This is part of our commitment. It is our showing to our African partners that we hear them. This is something that they've asked for and we're responding to that.Amb. Thomas-Greenfield, as you noted earlier, you've devoted a lot of your career to places in Africa: Kenya, the Gambia, Nigeria. You were the US ambassador to Liberia. What sort of change are you hoping to see going forward when it comes to how US leaders deal with their counterparts in Africa?We have committed to engaging with this continent. And for me, I think the important thing that we will message in the summit is that we value Africa and, most importantly, we value the people of Africa. Africa is a young continent. The median age is 19. And we have to engage with those young people moving forward. They are the future. And we need to make sure that they are prepared for their leadership roles in the future and ensure that the United States is listening to them and supporting them and working so that they can provide for Africa's prosperity in the future.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. AP contributed to this report. 

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Count me in!Related ContentChina has a police network that stretches across some 30 countries, NGO says‘We want Africa to take its place’: African leaders call for more representation at UN Security CouncilIn Catalonia, ruling separatist parties split, signaling end of an eraTaiwan celebrates National Day amid heightened tensions with China

These Afghan women soldiers made it out of Afghanistan. Their next battle is making it in the US.

class=”MuiTypography-root-225 MuiTypography-h1-230″>These Afghan women soldiers made it out of Afghanistan. Their next battle is making it in the US.

About 40 members of a special, all-women Afghan platoon that worked alongside the US military barely made it out of Afghanistan last year. Now, they want to put their training to use even though they remain in a legal limbo. But that hasn’t stopped them learning English and getting an education. 

The WorldDecember 9, 2022 · 2:00 PM EST

A. spent three years on high-risk night missions with US Army Special Forces as part of an all-women tactical unit of the Afghan army. Now, she and other former soldiers are trying to make new lives in Arizona.

 

Alisa Reznick/The World

By the time A. made it to the Kabul airport to evacuate Afghanistan amid the Taliban takeover in August of 2021, it was already too late to say most of her goodbyes in person.

A. was a member of the Afghan military for five years, including three years with an elite, all-women unit called the Female Tactical Platoon, which made her a target for the Taliban.

A.’s full name isn’t being used — only an initial — because some of her family is still in Afghanistan. They’re Hazara, a persecuted ethnic and religious minority there. A. said that talking about her work could put them in even more danger.

That day at the airport, “I called my parents. I said, ‘I’m sorry, because I didn’t [see] you guys, and I’m getting ready to go. I’m leaving Afghanistan,’” she said.

It was the first time that she’d heard her dad cry, she said. “He said, ‘I love you,’” A. recounted recently, from Tempe, Arizona, where she shares an apartment with two other women from the same platoon.

A. and her roommates are among nearly 40 platoon members who made it out of Afghanistan and are living in the US. Even though they’re safe now, they remain in legal limbo. Still, they’re trying to learn English and pursue their education in the US. 

High-risk missions  

When A. joined the special forces, her parents had a hard time accepting her job, she said. She’d left university partway through a degree in engineering to pursue a military career, and they worried about her.

Just before Kabul fell last year, A. was on high-risk night missions with joint US and Afghan special forces. That meant dropping from helicopters into rough, remote terrain, questioning Taliban fighters and others thought to be connected to them. They were there gathering intel, asking about explosives or other weapons that may be hidden.

“I was in love with my job,” she said. “Wearing body armor, putting the helmet on and taking my gun to go find the enemy … taking care of people and helping people, it made me feel very strong.”

A. was doing work that few expected or accepted from Afghan women. But she saw it as a way to help her country.

As women, the Female Tactical Platoon members fulfilled a role that Afghan and American male soldiers culturally could not — interview women and children, usually wives, daughters or other family members of suspected Taliban fighters.

But it’s this work that put her and the other FTPs in danger when the Taliban came into power.

“We assumed that the FTPs would be part of the operation to evacuate,” said Bill Richardson, a US Marine veteran and retired police detective in Phoenix. “But then, we discovered that they were not part of the discussion, there was no mention of them, they weren’t on anybody’s radar.”

Richardson’s daughter, who is in the US Army and worked with A. in Afghanistan, brought their predicament to his attention. Richardson wound up helping A. and other platoon members to leave the country.

Bill Richardson is a Marine veteran and retired police detective in Phoenix. A. and other platoon members initially lived with him and his wife in Tempe, Arizona, after they arrived in the US.

 

Credit:

Alisa Reznick/The World

One platoon member was killed before she could evacuate. But Richardson and an ad hoc group of other veterans, lawmakers and active duty soldiers managed to get the 39 others out safely last year — across the US.

“A lot of this boiled down to friendships that people had, relationships through serving together friends of friends,” Richardson said. “Or in my case, friends of friends of friends, or calling people cold and saying, ‘Will you please help?’”

But, like thousands of their compatriots, the Afghan women are also stuck — they’re here on temporary immigration status with no clear path to citizenship. Since they were part of the Afghan army, they also can’t apply for the special visas afforded to Afghans who worked for the US. A bill called the Afghan Adjustment Act could change that, but it’s stalled in Congress.

That means aspirations they have with careers and higher education are much more difficult.

A. wants to join the US military and fly helicopters. But despite looking for months, A. doesn’t have a job right now. 

A. holds a mug commemorating soldiers from the Female Tactical Platoon, or FTP, and the Cultural Support Team, or CST — a mostly women unit within the US military that worked with the FTPs.

 

Credit:

Alisa Reznick/The World

“My parents … always say, ‘You have to continue your education, you have to focus on your education, that’s OK we don't need money,’” she said. “But I don’t feel good because the people in Afghanistan are not in a good situation. And I know they need money because we are not a small family.”

Richardson said this is a persistent issue that many of the former soldiers face, and it’s hard not to think there’s some bias involved — because they’re Afghans, new to the US, or just because they’re different.

“I think the political climate has created an environment where, you know, people want to blame, and they're not accepting of someone or something that's different,” he said.  

Hurdles to starting over in the US

English proficiency is the first hurdle that the Afghan soldiers have to clear. A. stopped her English studies at Arizona State University earlier this year. Funding got tight, and she said that news from Afghanistan consumed her focus.

It was also difficult to make the transition from soldier to civilian, something Rebekah Edmondson said that she knows a lot about. She’s a US Army Special Forces veteran who served four tours in Afghanistan alongside the Afghan women’s platoon.

“You know, the fact that they went from repelling out of helicopters under night vision, conducting these very high-profile operations,” she said. “Now, they’re here, labeled as refugees in a country that’s not always incredibly welcoming.”

Edmondson trained the first Afghan women’s platoon more than 10 years ago. She said that long before US troops left Afghanistan, Edmondson began to worry that one day, these women would need to leave their country.

A laptop, book and pink soldier figurines sit atop a desk inside the Tempe apartment where some former platoon members live. The family of former Marine Bill Richardson gave A. an Amelia Earhart book after hearing about her plan to become a pilot herself one day.

 

Credit:

Alisa Reznick/The World

She started trying to set up educational opportunities for them in the US, talking with universities about how they could enroll in classes and master’s programs.

“But unfortunately, you know, just with the infrastructure of that country and not having WiFi that was reliable and different things, there were opportunities present, but they weren't able to take advantage of them,” she said.

She said that’s changing now that the women are in the US. She’s helping to fund online English classes and other training for the platoon members, one of a few women veterans hired by the Pentagon Federal Credit Union to help in that effort.

She said that she tries to see it as a silver lining. But she knows things won’t happen overnight. Like A., many of the women still have family struggling in Afghanistan.

“And so it's, it's very, very difficult to expect somebody that's going through all this mental, emotional anguish to thrive immediately,” she said. “Even if they do get connected to a job and have all these resources, the majority of them are really struggling with that fact.”

Inside her Tempe apartment, A. has a collection of framed photos of her family and work from back home.

The images are tucked away inside a plastic sleeve in A.’s closet, along with a neatly folded Afghan flag. She said that having them out just brings a rush of painful memories.

“My job was taking care of the people, and work[ing] for my country, and help[ing] my country, and unfortunately, when I think about it, it makes me very sad and very angry, because I cannot do anything for the people of Afghanistan, especially the women,” she said.

Still, she said that she’s moving forward. She’ll restart English classes next year. And she wants to get her pilot’s license one day — it’s a new dream that feels close to the work she once loved.

An earlier version of this story was originally published by KJZZ.

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Texas candidates battle for Hispanic vote in US midterm elections

class=”MuiTypography-root-225 MuiTypography-h1-230″>Texas candidates battle for Hispanic vote in US midterm elections

In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Democrat Beto O’Rourke have spent more than $9 million combined in purchasing Spanish-language media advertisements to appeal to voters.

The WorldNovember 7, 2022 · 3:00 PM EST

Shown in the Spanish language are "He Votado Hoy" stickers or "I voted today," at a polling place in Philadelphia, May 21, 2019.

Matt Rourke/AP/File

Ahead of US midterm elections, candidates in Texas are battling it out to win over Spanish-speaking voters, who now make up a quarter of those eligible to vote in the state, according to census estimates. Overall, Hispanics — regardless of whether or not they speak Spanish — make up a third of all voters in Texas.

“Any candidate that wants to win the election in November needs to have at least some Latino voters [as] part of their coalition,” said Jeronimo Cortina, a political scientist at the University of Houston.

In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Democrat Beto O’Rourke have spent more than $9 million combined in purchasing Spanish-language media advertisements.

Along with traditional TV ads, the O’Rourke campaign has a team staffed with bilingual videographers who produce TikTok videos, with several of them going viral in both Spanish and English.

Meanwhile, Abbott’s campaign says he’s more than doubled his Spanish ad spending from previous years. The GOP is paying special attention to voters in South Texas, hoping to make gains among the Latino and bilingual voters there.

This combination of photos shows Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke in Edinburg, Texas, left, Sept. 30, 2022, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in Del Rio, Texas, right, Sept. 21, 2021.

Credit:

Eric Gay (left) and Julio Cortez (right)/AP/File photos

Republican congresswoman Mayra Flores — whose district includes Brownsville, which has historically been left-leaning — won a special election last summer, flipping the seat. Now, she’s up for reelection.in South Texas, where two other conservative Latinas could also flip congressional seats.

Many Latino voters are excited about Abbott, including Rodolfo Guajardo Jr. — a long-time Republican voter in Laredo, who said the governor is “like Superman.” Guajardo Jr. supports the wall along the US-Mexico border, and said he likes Abbott’s policies, including those such as busing migrants to other cities.

But many other South Texas voters are fed up with the continuous emphasis on border security. 

“The moment they see brown skin, they're like, you're illegal.”

Kathia Rodriguez, 25-year-old library aid in Brownsville

“The moment they see brown skin, they're like, 'you're illegal,'” said25-year-old Kathia Rodriguez, who works as a library aid in Brownsville and is from Mexico. One of her top issues is abortion rights, which have been taken away since Texas reinstated a total ban on abortion after Roe v. Wade was overturned in June.

“It's illegal. Now [pregnant people] have to go through more dangerous methods, and it could lead to people losing their lives,” Rodriguez said.

Both parties are paying closer attention to Latino voters, not just in Texas, but also nationwide. A Pew Research report shows that they now make up 14% of the US electorate.

Political scientist Cortina said that Texas could be a harbinger for how the rest of the country votes.

“Texas is at the forefront of perhaps demographic change in terms of how the nation is going to be looking demographically in the next decades or so,” Cortina said.

Earlier versions of this story originally appeared in The Houston Chronicle:
Abbott and O'Rourke's big bet on Spanish speaking voters
Latino voters on the Texas border care about these issues the most

Related: The complicated history and identity of Latinos in the United States

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1 in 6 trees in the US threatened with extinction

class=”MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>1 in 6 trees in the US threatened with extinction

A recent study concludes that 1 in 6 US tree species are at risk of extinction, largely due to pests and disease.

Living on EarthOctober 13, 2022 · 3:00 PM EDT

In this June 25, 2004 file photo, old growth Douglas fir trees stand along the Salmon river Trail on the Mt. Hood National Forest outside Zigzag, Ore. 

Rick Bowmer/AP file photo

A new study has found that between 11% and 16% of American trees are threatened with extinction.

Hundreds of scientists from botanic gardens and research institutions across the US collaborated on the study, published in the journal Plants People Planet, which assessed the extinction risk of all 881 known American tree species.

The top threats to trees in the US and across the world are pests and disease — and climate change is expected to increase the risk from these threats.

“The impacts of climate change, on average, are warmer temperatures, droughts, more intense storms and natural disasters, and that makes species and entire ecosystems more stressed and more vulnerable,” says Abby Meyer, executive director of Botanic Gardens Conservation International US and a lead author on the study.

Climate change can accelerate the invasion of pests and diseases into weakened forests, Meyer adds.  Bark beetles, for example, which are one of the largest animal families in the world, often attack weakened trees first.

The study identified 165 threatened tree species in the US, many of them some of the most well-known, including oak, ash, Fraser fir (which is a common Christmas tree) and iconic old-growth trees like the California redwood and the Giant Sequoia. For these two species, stress from fire and drought have caused decline and die-off of older trees and prevented the regrowth of younger seedlings in the understory.

“California redwood and Giant Sequoia are both fire-adapted species; they evolved with seasonal fire,” Meyer notes. “But with the intensity of fires that we've been seeing, and also the rapid rate of change that we've been seeing with our climate, plant species just can't keep up.”

The loss of tree species has broader implications for the entire natural world, Meyer says. She thinks of a forest, or any other type of ecosystem, as a tapestry.

“If you start pulling out one thread and then another, soon the fabric is not going to be as strong — you can see through it and it could be torn more easily,” she explains. “Ecosystems are very similar. And each thread is depending on the other one for strength and durability. So if some species start to disappear, the remaining species become more vulnerable.”

Other plants and animals rely for their survival on specific species of trees. If a species is lost, the forest or ecosystem may lose a lot more than just that tree species.

“Half of the world's animal and plant species rely on trees as their habitat,” Meyer points out. “A single oak, for example, can support hundreds and even thousands of different species on a single tree. … So, in general, the consequences of forest decline are pretty catastrophic.”

Unfortunately, trees and plants don’t receive as much protection under the Endangered Species Act as animals do. The new study found that over 160 tree species may be endangered or threatened, but the federal government recognizes only about eight.

It can take years to get a plant species onto the list and those listed by the Endangered Species Act receive federal protections only on federal land. A species that exists only on private land or on non-federal land doesn’t get the same protection.

“There is a tendency…to sort of ignore plants,” Meyer says. “We call that ‘plant awareness disparity.’ Some people call it ‘plant blindness.’ Really, it comes down to some of the psychological characteristics of humans and how we are drawn to relatable organisms. If we can relate to an animal that moves, that maybe looks like they're expressing emotion, then it makes us care about them.”

Plants don't have that advantage, so they're often overlooked — when, in fact, there are more threatened plants than threatened vertebrates and invertebrates combined, she points out. And the world is counting on trees to offset greenhouse gas emissions, so the loss of major species could affect how well the Earth survives changes to its climate.

Forests provide 50% of current carbon storage, so mass tree planting has in recent times been seen as “sort of a silver bullet solution to the climate crisis,” Meyer says. But often, tree planting initiatives don't factor in biodiversity —and diverse, native tree communities are the most resilient type of forest environment.

“To allow for a dynamic and adaptable future forest, each species in [a] forest needs to have a full set of genetic tools to adapt to any future scenario,” Meyer says. “So our goal right now is to get the right trees in the right places and encourage diversity — that’s both species diversity and genetic diversity.”

Conservation can take other forms, too, Meyer adds: Seed banking, in which seeds are frozen for up to hundreds of years to buy the world some time and to preserve genetic lineages; growing living plants in a garden or conservation grove that can later be used for reintroduction in the wild or for breeding; and long-term management of existing species in wild populations.

“Management of these species through time — and that includes genetic management — is really crucial as these threatened species populations are dwindling,” Meyer maintains. “We need society to value plants and nature, so that it gets the conservation attention that it needs.”

Related'Finding the Mother Tree' explores the intricate communication networks within a forest

This article is based on an interview by Bobby Bascomb that aired on Living on Earth from PRX.

Analysts: In the face of a high-skilled labor shortage, the US needs to rely more on immigrants

class=”MuiTypography-root-229 MuiTypography-h1-234″>Analysts: In the face of a high-skilled labor shortage, the US needs to rely more on immigrantsThe WorldOctober 5, 2022 · 1:30 PM EDT

Ugandan refugee Hajarah Nakalyango, 30, is studying to be a registered nurse at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Massachusetts.

 

Kirk Carapezza/The World

Hajarah Nakalyango says she works between 80 and 100 hours a week to pay her way through nursing school and support her 3-year-old son.

The 30-year-old Christian convert, who fled violence in Uganda in 2017 and is estranged from her Muslim parents, is a home health care aide outside of Boston.

“To get the amount of money you want, you have to work a lot of hours,” she said.

One of the reasons she has to work so much is that she is categorized as a foreign student — and pays twice as much as an in-state student at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Massachusetts. Until her asylum status is approved, she's ineligible for financial aid.

“If my finances weren’t my problem, I could now be focusing on my education a lot,” she said. “It’s really annoying. The world needs us.”

To meet high-skilled workforce demands in industries such as health care and IT, analysts say that the US will need to rely more on skilled immigrants like Nakalyango. That’s because the number of college-educated workers is shrinking and baby boomers are retiring more quickly than previous estimates suggested.

This all comes as overall college enrollment is dropping. A new report by the think tank MassINC shows that there has been a 25% increase in the number of workers in Massachusetts with degrees in each of the past four decades.

But now, the state is facing a 10% decrease by 2030, in part, because international immigration has slowed since 2016, according to Ben Forman who directed that research for MassINC.

“It's kind of like going 90 miles an hour and hitting a brick wall,” he said.

Like many other states, Massachusetts has built a knowledge economy based on the idea that companies and hospitals could depend on college-educated workers.

Forman said the trend is troublesome and frustrating.

“We talked about these issues for decades and decades, and now, we’re feeling the problems we predicted, and everybody thinks, ‘Oh, the pandemic came and disrupted everything.’ And the pandemic didn't help at all, but we’ve got to recognize that these problems were there well before the pandemic,” he said.

Brooke Thomson, executive vice president of government affairs at Associated Industries of Massachusetts, said that her group wants the federal government to expand access to work visas.

“The volcano hasn't even erupted yet. We're sitting on top of it,” she said, adding that her members, who lean conservative, try to avoid being dragged into debates surrounding immigration, especially like the one that happened after Venezuelan migrants were flown to Martha’s Vineyard last month.

“It does frustrate them that there is tension around situations like this and not [a] focus on the things that could really impact our bottom line economically,” Thomson said. “These political sideshows are really just distracting. They’re not helping.”

The skilled-worker shortage is not new or unique to Massachusetts.

Ben Forman directs research at the Boston-based think tank MassINC, which found Massachusetts is now facing a 10% decrease in workers with a college degree by 2030, in part, because international immigration has slowed since 2016. 

 

Credit:

Kirk Carapezza/The World

“There is a shortage everywhere,” said Dany Bahar, who teaches public policy and economics at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Approaching a demographic cliff, between 2019 and 2017, the number of new high school graduates in New England is expected to shrink by nearly 13%. So, Bahar said northeastern states especially need more immigration.

“[The] Massachusetts governor and the governor of New York, they should be sending letters to [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis thanking him for sending those immigrants,” he said.

Bahar, an immigrant from Venezuela, said it’s frustrating to see other migrants — who are fleeing violence and poverty in his home country — being used as political pawns to mobilize conservative voters. He said the Florida governor's “stunt” in Martha’s Vineyard shows how racism and xenophobia continue to influence policies related to immigration.

“If there’s anything wrong with America and immigration, it’s that we need more of it,” he said.

But others have a different opinion. An August poll from NPR/Ipsos finds a third of all Americans agree that “native-born Americans are being systematically replaced by immigrants” and Republicans are far more likely to endorse rhetoric that echoes the so-called “replacement theory” — the false conspiracy theory that Jews and “elites” are deliberately replacing white Americans with immigrants and people of color.

But Nakalyango, the nursing student, is pretty sure that by the time she graduates from nursing school in two years, she’ll have proved those people wrong.

Safe and unsilenced: Afghan scholars find refuge at US universities

class=”MuiTypography-root-229 MuiTypography-h1-234″>Safe and unsilenced: Afghan scholars find refuge at US universitiesThe WorldSeptember 30, 2022 · 12:45 PM EDT

Masuma Mohammadi sits on a bench at San José State University, where she's been hired to research Afghanistan from a safe distance. 

Courtesy of Sara Arman

Masuma Mohammadi was a radio reporter for the United Nations News service for a popular news program in Afghanistan called “Hello Countrymen, Countrywomen,” before the Taliban took over the country in August of 2021.

Her work as a journalist and women’s rights activist made her a target for the Taliban. She was forced to flee and found refuge in the US, a country she had visited only once, years ago.

Mohammadi has been in San Jose, California, with a residency at San Jose State University, for six months now. Her research detailing the persecution of the ethnic Hazara in Afghanistan is work she could never do in her home country.

“Afghan women have been completely removed from the structure of [public] life in Afghanistan,” Mohammadi said, adding that the country is experiencing a profound human rights and humanitarian crisis.

Girls aren’t allowed to attend high school, women are barred from working in offices and nongovernmental organizations, and they’re not allowed to travel or go long distances without a male chaperone.

But through the power of the internet, she and other Afghans like her — journalists, activists and academics — are able to continue their research outside of Afghanistan in the US, thanks to the Afghan Visiting Scholars program, a collaboration between some Bay Area universities.

The program is the brainchild of Halima Kazem-Stojanovic, who was a refugee herself more than 40 years ago when Afghanistan fell to the former Soviet Union.

“My family came as Afghan political refugees in what I call the first migration of Afghans into the United States,” Kazem-Stojanovic said. “My parents knew other Afghan families who lived in San Jose including [the famous author] Khalid Husseini's parents. Our fathers were friends.”

The family settled in San Jose just before she started kindergarten.

Kazem-Stojanovic is now an oral historian on Afghanistan at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, but for 10 years, she was a journalism and human rights professor at San Jose State — and a core faculty member of its Human Rights Institute.

Because her work has often taken her to Afghanistan, she has many connections there.

“This has meant incredible opportunities to make very close friendships in Afghanistan. I trained more than 300 journalists in the last 20 years in Afghanistan,” she said. “Many became wonderful friends, and that's a very dear title we have among Afghans, when you're considered a cousin, even though you're not by blood.”

As Kabul fell to the Taliban, she received hundreds of messages on her WhatsApp and Signal accounts, like: “How do we get out of here?” “Can you send money?” “I can't go home.”

Kazem-Stojanovic said most of the people she was in contact with are in hiding. One photographer she knew dug a hole in his yard to bury his awards, including his Pulitzer Prize.

She reached out to her network in the US to help Afghan academics and journalists get out of the country — but also, to support people once they arrived in the US.

As the child of an economics professor who couldn’t teach in the United States, Kazem-Stojanovic was keenly aware that these refugees would need financial and professional support to establish themselves on this side of the Pacific.

“I thought, possibly, I could give some — a few — an opportunity not only to come here, but continue their public-facing work,” Kazem-Stojanovic said.

She found ready collaborators at the University of California, Berkeley’s Human Rights Center and her own San José State University. And so began the Afghan Visiting Scholars program.

“Together, we quickly rolled out a crowdfunding campaign [now ended] because universities work very slowly, the wheels don't turn very fast and we were in an emergency.

“We were in a crisis,” Kazem-Stojanovic said ruefully. “I think we raised over $300,000. And that was the easy part, because then it was, 'all right, well, how do we get people here?'”

She added, “We thought that if we could reach out to members of Congress and senators with lists of people … but they couldn't do very much. The evacuation lists were so long. There were so few places.”

The list of schools that have taken on more Afghan scholars, and participated in the work involved to apply for J-1 academic visas and J-2 visas (for immediate family members), is small but growing; including the University of California, Berkeley, and University of California, Santa Cruz, as well as Yale University, Tennessee State University and The University of Texas at El Paso. 

‘Room and space for Afghans to do the work’

One year later, Kazem-Stojanovic maintains a list of roughly 130 people waiting for academic visas, many of them in Pakistan, India and Turkey. Others are already in the US on humanitarian parole, which allows them to stay for two years.

People get on the list in a variety of ways — starting with an application process.

“Placing the applicant depends on where they are geographically, the field they are in and a variety of immigration factors,” she said. “We have various routes for bringing scholars here. We have to be creative because each person has a unique situation.”

So far, she has found placements for 15 Afghan scholars.

In addition to helping bring Afghans to safety, she said, the program is an avenue for illuminating stories that are often untold in the West.

“There's still so much need to understand this country [Afghanistan] and this part of the world. And I would like to see native Afghans contribute to that,” Kazem-Stojanovic said. “So much of what's published in the West is by non-Afghans. You know, a lot of American and European anthropologists and historians. And there's room and space now for Afghans to do the work.”

The Afghan Visiting Scholars program isn’t the only one of its kind. Stanford University is working with New York-based Scholars at Risk, and the New University in Exile Consortium boasts nearly 60 universities around the world that agreed to host displaced scholars from countries where their lives were in danger.

According to the International Refugee Assistance Project, an estimated 83,000 Afghans were evacuated to the United States, and about 76,000 of them do not have access to a pathway to permanent legal status. The Afghan Adjustment Act, now pending on Capitol Hill, would allow them to apply for permanent legal residency, as happened for Vietnamese people after the Vietnam War, and Kurds after the Iraq War.

“Pass the Afghan Adjustment Act,” Kazem-Stojanovic said. “The people who are here have gone through so much. They need peace of mind. They need to know that their lives are secure in the future and they will be wonderful, incredible assets to this country.”

Expanding possibilities in the US

Faisal Karimi is another Afghan who has benefited from the Afghan Visiting Scholars Program.

After 20 years as a journalist, academic and women’s rights activist, Karimi’s life was turned upside-down last year. The assistant professor of journalism and communications at Herat University in western Afghanistan had to flee, along with his wife and children.

“I produced dozens of stories about Taliban policy and ideology. My life, my family was in danger. … We received many calls, threats and messages from the Taliban.”

Karimi destroyed his SIM card to obscure his movements, but managed to get in touch with nongovernmental organizations that had worked with him in the past, to evacuate his colleagues, as well as himself, within 10 days of the collapse of Herat to the Taliban.

The 22-hour public bus trip to Kabul over bombed-out roads was harrowing, as was the refugee camp his family lived in for seven months in Albania, but so was the prospect of starting from scratch in a strange land he’d visited once in 2013.

“I never [thought] that I’d come back again forever, to be a San Josean.”

So many refugees evacuated to the US and other countries wind up doing poorly paid or physically demanding jobs in health care, meatpacking and restaurants.

At an American university, Karimi is able to continue to make use of his intelligence and education, not to mention his English-language skills. Today, he’s a visiting research scholar at San Jose State, studying the Taliban and publishing news stories from the US.

“From here, we’re covering women’s challenges in Afghanistan, women's protests,” he said. “The local media, they’re not allowed to.”

Karimi hopes to pursue a doctorate degree in communications here, and then a career as a journalism professor.

“California and the United States is my second home. I really appreciate America’s people: their support, their kindness, everything they’ve provided for me and my family to stay in the United States.”

For Mohammadi, too, the chance to keep working is important. Although she's still learning to navigate an entirely new system and culture, she said that she is grateful to be in a position to make a positive difference in her home country from the relative safety of San Jose. And, it’s work that would be hard for a non-Hazaras, she said.

“We don’t hear stories from people, stories from victims, what situation they are living under, what their problems [are], what’s their request from the US, from the international community. In this way, we raise their voices,” Mohammadi said.

An earlier version of this story was published by KQED.

No contradiction in supporting protesters while pursuing nuclear deal with Iran, US special envoy says

class=”MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>No contradiction in supporting protesters while pursuing nuclear deal with Iran, US special envoy says

Robert Malley, the US special envoy for Iran, joined The World's host Marco Werman from Washington to discuss how the Biden administration views the current protests and what this could all mean for efforts to secure a nuclear deal with Iran.

The WorldSeptember 28, 2022 · 5:15 PM EDT

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during his press conference in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Aug. 29, 2022. Raisi warned that any roadmap to restore Tehran's tattered nuclear deal with world powers must see international inspectors end their probe on man-made uranium particles found at undeclared sites in the country. 

Iranian Presidency Office/AP

Protests in Iran show no signs of letting up. Yesterday, riot police clashed with demonstrators in dozens of cities across the country. Today, students at Shiraz University of Medical Sciences chanted slogans.

They were condemning police brutality and calling for more freedom for Iranian women. The demonstrations come after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was accused of violating the law on headscarves. Amini died in police custody.

Robert Malley, the US special envoy for Iran, joined The World's host Marco Werman from Washington to discuss how the Biden administration views the protests and what this could all mean for efforts to secure a nuclear deal with Iran. 

Marco Werman: Rob Malley, what's going through your mind as you watched day after day these protests in Iran? Are they a game-changer for the country?Robert Malley: We've all watched, sort of transfixed at the sight of brave Iranian women and men protesting. And what we do know is what we're going to do. We're going to speak forcefully about the fundamental rights of the Iranian people as we want to do across the world. We're going to condemn and sanction those Iranian institutions that were responsible for the death of Mahsa Amini. We've already sanctioned Iran's morality police and finally, and importantly, we're going to continue to help the Iranian people find ways to exercise their right to access information in the face of Iranian government attempts to block their access to the internet. We've taken steps already by loosening our sanctions in a way that would allow Iranians to talk to each other, communicate with each other and with the outside world.Well, as you say, as Iran has gone to shutting down the Internet quite forcefully, the US in response, has been trying to get communications equipment into the hands of demonstrators. Has that been successful?So what we really have done is try to open the door to US companies to allow them to provide tools to ordinary Iranians and allow them to overcome and circumvent the surveillance tools on censorship. We've seen that it's had some effect already, but of course, it's in the face of a widespread attempt by the Iranian government to block that communication.So in 2009, when there were widespread protests in Iran, culminating in that killing of a 26-year old Neda Agha-Soltan, the Obama White House did not want to support the protests, fearing charges of foreign interference. Now the US is engaged and supporting the protesters. What changed? I wasn't part of the Obama administration at the time. I think the Obama administration in due course, did condemn the repression. But listen, all I could speak about is what the Biden administration is about. And it's not about regime change. This is not a policy that is trying to fuel instability in Iran and try to topple the regime and the government. It's a policy that is trying to be true to US beliefs that people have the right to exercise fundamental freedoms.At the same time as these demonstrations are happening, there is the languishing Iran nuclear deal with discouraging levels of progress recently to revive the 2015 agreement. With that effort stalled. How has that changed the calculus with supporting these protests? In other words, how do you see the relationship between the protests and the nuclear talks?Some people have asked us why would we continue to pursue a nuclear deal in the face of the repression of this Iranian government. It didn't take what just happened, the tragedy that occurred to Mahsa Amini, for us to know what this Iranian government is about. The reason we're pursuing a nuclear deal is [that] we don't want this government to have its hands on a nuclear weapon. It's really as simple as that. And so that remains a fundamental national security interest of the United States. And, yes, we can do both things at the same time. We can be true to our values and speak out forcefully on behalf of ordinary Iranians who want to exercise their fundamental rights, even as we pursue another fundamental national security interest, which is to make sure that Iran doesn't acquire a nuclear weapon. And so those who say we shouldn't engage with them, we would ask the question, "What are we going to do to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon?" Isn't diplomacy the best way, if we can do it? And by the way, we also have to engage with the Iranian government to secure the release of four of our citizens who have been unjustly detained, one of them for seven years. And to those who think that there's a contradiction, I would ask, what would they do to try to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon?A US diplomat told journalists this week that the negotiations on that nuclear deal with Iran have hit a wall. What is the wall? How do you see it? We were close to a deal, we thought about a month ago, and then Iran, for its own reasons and reasons that one should ask them, decided to reintroduce an issue that has nothing to do with the deal, which has to do with the International Atomic Energy Agency's investigation into past Iranian activities, and in particular, the presence of uranium particles on the site. So without getting into the details, what Iran has asked for is for us, the United States and European countries to put pressure on the international agency to conclude those investigations. That has nothing to do with the deal, number one, and number two, it's something that we won't do. It's a decision Iran has to make. So that's the wall we're facing right now. But it's a wall that only Iran could overcome. What we can do is continue to maintain our pressure to make sure that Iran doesn't acquire a nuclear weapon.As you pointed out, Rob, President Trump famously exited the Iran nuclear deal in 2018. One thing Iranian negotiators have said is that they want guarantees that the election of a new Republican president in 2024, if that happens, would not mean the US will back out of another nuclear deal. Do they have a point? I can understand why they would want that guarantee. We've told them from the minute these negotiations began over a year and a half ago, that's not the way our system works. If a future president decides again recklessly to unilaterally withdraw from the deal at a time that the deal was working, if that's what they decide to do, there's nothing we, as in Biden, can do to stop that.Rob, finally, is Iran intent on having nuclear weapons? I mean, is that what US policy assumes? Is that the underlying belief?Without getting into sort of what our intelligence community would say, I think at this point, it doesn't appear that Iran has made a decision to acquire a nuclear weapon. It doesn't mean that they're not expanding their program so that they could be on the threshold of doing so. But they do not appear today to have made that decision. Again, we can't build our policy on what we assess to be Iran's intent. We base our policy on what we see Iran is doing. And our policy is guided by the president's very firm commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons through diplomacy, if that's at all possible.Rob, as you've served in this role as US special envoy for Iran, is there an anecdote you can share with us that kind of really sheds light on where things stand at this moment in time with Iran?You know, I don't think there's an anecdote that I would be prepared to recount at this point. I do think, though, that it is quite telling that we have been relatively close to a deal on more than one occasion, last spring and in August. And both times, Iran, for some reason and again, you should ask them and have their officials on your program, once, because they wanted us to commit to lifting the foreign terrorist organization designation of the IRGC, or the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has nothing to do with the deal. And we we spent a lot of time in which we told them, you want that lifted, you gotta do something in exchange in terms of the behavior of the IRGC. In the end, they dropped that. Now it's this question of the investigation by the IAEA. Again, nothing to do with the deal, delaying the deal. What does that say? You'd have to ask them. Are they at the moment of truth? Do they take a step back? Are they not prepared to to get back into the deal? Are they hoping for concessions that won't come? Our door is still open, if they want to go through, if they want to, to get this deal. But those two episodes show that at some point, the real discussion that needs to take place is not so much between the US and Iran, it's between Iran and itself. Is it prepared to take the steps necessary to get back into the deal? And if the answer is no, then we're going to have to see what other paths are available. But that's the urgent conversation that we think needs to take place.It sounds like you're take is that it's hard to negotiate with a country that moves the goalposts.Yes. It's also hard to negotiate with a country that refuses to talk to us, which has made everything more difficult, more time consuming, more prone to misunderstanding. We're prepared to have direct talks. They're not. So we've had to make do with with a very unsatisfactory, indirect conversation. 

This interview was lightly edited and condensed for clarity. 

The largest oil trader spoke about the US plan to replace Russian oil in the EU

Russia will have to sell oil in other markets at a discount, says Vitol's director. The EU plans to introduce a ceiling on commodity prices ) and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), (max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >

The United States will supply Europe with more than 1 million barrels of oil per day. oil to replace Russian crude. This was stated by the director of the Swiss-Dutch company Vitol, which is the world's largest oil trader, Russell Hardy on the sidelines of the 38th Asia-Pacific Oil Conference, Reuters reports.

According to Hardy, they will look for a “home” for Russian raw materials outside the US, UK and EU. “[Oil] will go farther and farther and find other markets, while it will have to be sold at a discount,” — says the director of the company.

In May, the European Union agreed to a ban on sea shipments of Russian oil, but the embargo did not affect the export of raw materials through pipelines, through which EU members, including Hungary, Germany and Poland, received about a third of the oil. Due to the decision of Poland and Germany to refuse any form of Russian oil supplies (by sea and pipelines), by the end of the year it will only enter the EU through the southern part of the Druzhba pipeline, which accounts for 10% of the total volume of oil purchased by the European Union from Russia, said the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. The embargo is due to take effect in December. It will concern raw materials in their pure form and mixtures— so-called blends. If Russian and non-Russian oil is mixed in the batch, then it will be completely banned. However, if the supplier can clearly show which part of the batch is not produced in Russia, this part will be allowed on the European market.

Later, on September 23, the Financial Times, citing sources, reported that the eighth package of EU sanctions in response to partial mobilization and referendums in Donbass would include provisions for a ceiling on Russian oil prices. Bloomberg, citing sources, claimed that a decision could be made within a few weeks. The Russian authorities have repeatedly said that the country will stop supplying oil to those states that impose a price ceiling. The head of the Central Bank, Elvira Nabiullina, noted that this would lead to an increase in world prices for raw materials.

In late March, President Joe Biden announced his intention to release a record amount of crude oil— 180 million barrels— within six months to combat rising fuel prices and market disruptions. According to the plan, the US sells about 1 million barrels. oil per day. By September 16, strategic crude oil reserves in the United States fell to 427.2 million barrels, followed from a report by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The Wall Street Journal wrote that this figure was the lowest since 1984.

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Rental housing stock in the US faces huge challenges adapting to climate change

class=”MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Rental housing stock in the US faces huge challenges adapting to climate change

What can renters and landlords can do to fortify homes against a changing climate while transitioning to cleaner energy?

Living on EarthSeptember 18, 2022 · 12:45 PM EDT

City view at McCulloh apartments at Druid Hill Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland, June 2019. 

Elvert Barnes Photography/Flickr

As climate change brings higher temperatures and extreme weather to American cities, rental and affordable housing stock in the US remains largely under-equipped to deal with these new challenges.

The Inflation Reduction Act signed by President Joe Biden in August provides funds and programs for homeowners to take climate action by, for example, installing solar panels and energy efficient heat pumps. But what about renters?

Renters typically use one third more energy per square foot than homeowners because landlords often don’t get a financial return on installing expensive upgrades to improve insulation and HVAC efficiency. And many renters are low-income people who can not afford higher energy costs.

But, according to Todd Nedwick, senior director of sustainability policy at the National Housing Trust, there are ways for people living in rental housing to go greener, save energy costs and guard against heat waves and other climate related risks.

“The Inflation Reduction Act included a $1 billion program specifically targeted to HUD housing stock that will allow building owners to invest both in the energy efficiency of the building as well as improve resilience,” Nedwick says.

Programs in the Inflation Reduction Act also provide rebates to both single-family and multi-family building owners to encourage them to invest in energy efficiency and convert existing fossil fuel-burning equipment to all electric, Nedwick adds.

“[I]n Washington, DC, where I'm from, buildings account for 75% of greenhouse gas emissions,” he points out. “So we're not going to address climate change if we're not addressing the existing housing stock. Climate policy is housing policy.”

Resilience upgrades include measures such as flood-proofing, elevating essential equipment above ground level to prevent disruption to power, and adding battery storage to buildings so residents still have a source of power if the electrical grid goes down.

Protecting residents from extreme heat is another important resilience strategy, Nedwisk adds. This includes adding cool roofs to buildings, for example, in order to reflect sunlight and prevent buildings from getting too hot.

“[I]n many cases, older buildings might not have air conditioning,” Nedwick points out. “And so, in addition to providing incentives for reducing energy consumption, we also need to be providing resources to help building owners upgrade their buildings and install air conditioning to protect residents from extreme heat. We're seeing extreme heat disproportionately impact people of color because they don't live in areas that have invested in and have the infrastructure to protect from rising temperatures.”

Building owners can also access energy efficiency programs offered by local utility companies, which help offset the cost of making building upgrades, Nedwick says. These are important resources for building owners, especially owners of affordable housing, who typically have limited cash flow to pay the upfront cost of major upgrades.

Some cities are also implementing policies such as energy performance standards for buildings, which require owners of poor performing buildings to make upgrades that reduce energy use.

“So, we are seeing both carrots and sticks,” Nedwick says. “I think what works most effectively is when you combine the two. [I]f you're going to have a building energy performance standard and require building owners to make upgrades, especially in affordable housing, providing resources to the owner to actually pay for some of those costs is pretty important.”

Energy efficiency and better weatherization aren’t the whole story, however. Climate change is increasing the danger to buildings from hurricanes, flooding and wildfires. According to Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, 40% of rental housing stock in the US is at risk of damage from climate disasters.

Most of the country’s older rental housing stock is not built to withstand these impacts, Nedwick says.

“And we see that where there are the greatest risks in terms of potential climate events, those areas of the country are typically disproportionately Black, Hispanic, and low income individuals,” he points out. “So we have to fortify the existing rental housing stock to withstand climate events and protect existing residents.”

“In this country, we spend so much more funding on disaster recovery than we do disaster preparedness,” Nedwick continues. “And we've found that…the disaster recovery funding often doesn't reach renters and owners of rental housing. Typically, disaster recovery programs allocate funding based on the extent of the economic disruption from a climate event, and that often correlates with higher property values. As a result, a lot of the disaster recovery funding, especially through some of the FEMA programs, really [doesn’t] reach affordable housing residents and owners in an equitable way.”

RelatedBuilding high-rises, hotels and stadiums out of wood — for climate's sake

This article is based on an interview by Jenni Doering that aired on Living on Earth from PRX.

FT learned about US and EU plans to put pressure on Turkey over Mir cards

FT: The US and the EU will put pressure on Turkish banks that have connected to the Mir system The EU intends to send a delegation to Turkey amid fears of circumventing sanctions against Russia, the newspaper writes. There are now many partners of Russia in Turkey – only some of the banks are not ready to serve Mir cards, the head of the NSPK said /756632212900866.png 673w” media=”(max-width: 320px) and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), (max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >

The United States and the European Union are stepping up pressure on Turkey to enforce sanctions against Russia. This is reported by The Financial Times, citing two sources.

According to the publication, Washington is focusing on Turkish banks that have connected to the Russian payment system “Mir”.

Brussels is also preparing a delegation to express their concerns to Turkish officials directly.

General Director of the National Payment Card System (NSPK) Vladimir Komlev, in turn, said that the cards of the Mir payment system, the failure of which was previously reported in Turkey, continue to function as before.

“Nothing bad has happened in Turkey, the work is going absolutely normal. Wherever the maps “Mir” were accepted, they are accepted, & mdash; he emphasized (quote from TASS).

According to Komlev, the Russian side contacted the Turkish partners, and they confirmed that there were no reasons to worry. There are many partners in Turkey now, some of the banks were not always ready to serve the cards of Russian banks that fell under sanctions before. “But these are just some of the banks,” — Komlev added.

Read on RBC Pro Pro x The Economist Brazilian JBS outperformed Nestlé and PepsiCo. Why investors are wary of it a wave of “quiet layoffs”. What will it lead to in Russia? Erdogan, after talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Sochi, mentioned the topic of using Russian Mir cards in Turkey.

“There is also a card” World ” Russia. Now five of our banks are working on it. There are also very serious developments here,»,— said the Turkish leader.

After that, The Financial Times reported that Western authorities are increasingly concerned about deepening economic cooperation between Russia and Turkey and the growing risk of secondary sanctions against Ankara if it help Moscow circumvent the restrictions.

One of the European officials said that the EU is monitoring the cooperation between Moscow and Ankara “more and more closely”. “We are trying to get the Turks to pay attention to our concerns,” — stressed the source.

Turkish Deputy Finance Minister Nynus Elitash on August 21 assured the United States that official Ankara would not allow sanctions to be circumvented by any person or institution in Turkey.

In early March, Turkey refused to join sanctions against Russia, explaining this decision by the unwillingness to “burn bridges”, despite the support of Ukraine.

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NYT announces US assistance in preparing Ukraine’s counteroffensive

The United States provided Kyiv with data on command posts, Russian army ammunition depots, “constantly” discussed a way to stop the Russian advance in eastern Ukraine, writes The New York Times,

The US and Ukraine stepped up intelligence sharing over the summer, allowing Washington to provide better and more up-to-date information for Kyiv's planning of a counteroffensive in the country's northeast, The New York Times reported, citing unnamed US officials.

Sources declined to say , what details of the counter-offensive plan Ukraine disclosed to the United States and what advice the American side gave, but one of them indicated that Washington and Kyiv “permanently” discussed a way to stop Russia's advance in the east of the country.

The interlocutors of the publication admitted that the current offensive could be the initial stage of the Ukrainian Armed Forces campaign, which “may significantly push back the Russian front line.”

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According to The New York Times, throughout the operation, the United States provided Ukraine with information about command posts, ammunition depots and other key nodes of the Russian army.

Ukraine's decision to announce a counteroffensive in the south before striking in the northeast is a standard disorientation technique used by U.S. special operations forces that have been training Ukrainians since 2014, the newspaper notes.

Read on RBC Pro Pro They're either fans or haters: how to make buzzers regulars Instructions Pro Five tips to start meditating regularly Instructions Pro How the “antelope method” will help you cope with stress in five minutes Articles Pro China's housing market is a bubble. Could it trigger a global crisis Pro Articles The 3 Most Bad Habits of Businessmen and How to Beat Them Pro Instructions “We're Afraid of the Gods and Bosses”: What It's Like to Work in India in 4 Points Pro Articles Eight Tips for Those Who Want to Learn to Run Regularly Pro Instructions The Method Red: How an American Made $1.3 Billion in a Resale Business They were taught irregular warfare. Our scouts taught them deception and psychological operations, & mdash; said former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas, who oversaw US military relations with Russia and Ukraine from 2012 to 2015.

Some U.S. officials are reserved in their assessments, noting that it is too early to determine whether the Ukrainian Armed Forces will be able to continue the offensive, as the Ukrainian military faces a shortage of supplies, especially artillery shells.

First Deputy Minister of Information of the DPR Daniil Bezsonov and military correspondents Alexander Kots and Yevgeny Poddubny announced on September 10 that the allied troops were leaving Izyum. According to Poddubny, the command made the right decision, since “the encirclement of the Russian group in Izyum would be a disaster.”

On September 10, the Ministry of Defense announced the decision to regroup troops in the Balakleya and Izyum regions in order to increase efforts in the Donetsk direction.

Within three days, the Izyum-Balakleya grouping was rolled up and transferred to the territory of the DPR. During this time, more than 2 thousand Ukrainian and foreign fighters, more than 100 armored vehicles and artillery units were destroyed, according to the Ministry of Defense.

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Reuters learned about US plans to limit the supply of semiconductors to China

Reuters learned about US plans to expand restrictions on the supply of semiconductors to China As conceived by the authorities, the measure should help prevent the purchase of American technologies by China max-width: 320px) and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), (max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >

The administration of US President Joe Biden plans to expand restrictions on the supply of semiconductors for the production of chips and artificial intelligence tools to China in October. This was reported by Reuters, citing sources familiar with the matter.

According to the agency, the Department of Commerce will publish new rules for the export of semiconductors, which have already been mentioned in letters to three US companies— KLA Corp., Lam Research Corp. and Applied Materials Inc. The agency prohibited them from sending chip-making equipment to Chinese factories that produce advanced semiconductors with a manufacturing process of less than 14 nanometers without permission.

In addition, the ministry will consolidate the rules contained in the letters to Nvidia Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices in August. Companies were required to suspend shipments of several types of artificial intelligence computing chips unless they had a special license.

US authorities may impose licensing requirements for China to ship products with targeted chips, one source said. The list may include data center servers that contain the Nvidia A100 chip from Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Super Micro Computer.

A senior Commerce Department official declined to comment on plans to expand restrictions. The agency spokesman spoke of a “comprehensive approach to complementary actions to protect US interests,” as well as intentions to prevent China from acquiring US technology to modernize the military.

The US began restricting the sale of American technology to Chinese companies in 2020. Among them were firms such as Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. and Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. The measure restrained the growth rate of firms, but stimulated production, and then large Western companies became interested in Chinese manufacturers, wrote Bloomberg.

Read on RBC Pro Pro China's housing market is in a bubble. Can it provoke a global crisis Articles Pro In IT, you can have a high salary in your first position. Who to study for Pro Instructions Doesn't give advice and is indifferent to prestige: 3 types of executive magnets Pro Instructions “We in Washington love to eat pizza”: why hockey player Ovechkin is against diets I Learned on the Phone”: Adidas CEO on Career Pivots Pro Articles Five Tips to Start Meditating Regularly Pro Instructions “Learning to Set People Up Diplomatically”: What It's Like to Work at Amazon Articles In June, the agency indicated that over the past year, 19 of 20 companies from China became the fastest growing within the industry among other countries. Suppliers of software, processors, and equipment vital to chip manufacturing have increased revenues by several times those of the world's industry leaders.

In July, Reuters reported that the Biden administration had asked for allies impose similar restrictions on the supply of semiconductors to prevent foreign companies from selling technology to China bypassing the US ban.

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US general urges US authorities to allow Ukraine to attack Russian territory

Retired American Brigadier General Mark Arnold told Channel 24 that NATO and the US should give Kyiv weapons to strike deep into Russia and allow such attacks.

Photo: pixabay.com

Retired American brigadier general Mark Arnold, in an interview with Channel 24, said that NATO and the United States should give Kyiv weapons to strike deep into Russia and allow such attacks.

According to him, the requirement of Western countries for Ukraine not to use weapons received from allies against Moscow is a “big strategic mistake.”

“White House officials and their allies should provide the Kyiv regime with weapons capable of delivering strikes on Russian territory. Now I'm not talking about Crimea. NATO and the United States say: “Do not strike at the territory of Russia”. I think that such words are stupid,” Arnold said.

He clarified that in order to achieve their goals, the Armed Forces need to attack objects that “located hundreds of kilometers inland of Russia.”

Источник www.mk.ru

US will support Ukraine against Russian aggression ‘as long as it takes,’ US State Dept. spokesperson says

class=”MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>US will support Ukraine against Russian aggression ‘as long as it takes,’ US State Dept. spokesperson says

Ned Price, the US State Department’s top spokesperson, told The World's host Carol Hills that the United States is prepared to support Ukraine for as long as necessary to defeat Russian aggression and to also defend themselves against any future aggression.

The WorldAugust 25, 2022 · 11:15 AM EDT

Ukrainian servicemen prepare their weapon to fire Russian positions in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, early Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022.

Andrii Marienko/AP

Six months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, US President Joe Biden chose Ukrainian Independence Day to announce almost $3 billion in funding toward new weapons for Ukraine.

“This is about assistance to provide Ukraine with the anti-air systems, with anti-drone technology, with the UAVs, with radars that will help them over the longer term deter and defend themselves against any future aggression, well after this is over,” said Ned Price, the US State Department’s top spokesperson. 

Price joined The World’s host Carol Hills to delve into US policy on the war. 

Carol Hills: So, how much longer can the US sustain this level of funding?Ned Price: We have made very clear that we are going to be with Ukraine for as long as it takes. We have had a tremendous partner in the US Congress. We're able to do much of this because of the funding, the emergency supplemental funding that Congress put forward earlier this year. It was $40 billion.A New York Times story this week noted that aid agencies have pointed out how the West is focusing on Ukraine, where the population is mostly white and Christian, leaving few resources for those fleeing violence and being pushed to the brink of famine in Africa and the Middle East. Is that a fair critique?It's not a fair critique, because the United States is the world's humanitarian leader. We've spoken of the aid and assistance we provided to Ukraine, but we have done that across continents, across countries, the world over. We have announced billions of dollars for Africa, for other parts of the world.It's been six months since Russia invaded Ukraine and the war has sort of slowed to a grind. How do US officials see this war playing out?Our long-term goal is simple. It is to see that Ukraine remains independent, to see it remain sovereign, to see it remain democratic, but with the means to defend itself against any further aggression. We are going to stick by Ukraine until Russia is prepared to negotiate.Even if that takes years?We will be there with Ukraine for as long as it takes.What if Ukraine decides to carry the war to Russia? Will the US continue to back them?Everything we have provided Ukraine to date has been for their self-defense. Ukraine has every right to use force on its own territory. We have provided them with the weapons and the systems they need, not only to defend themselves, their civilian population, their infrastructure against this Russian brutality, but to take aim at Russian aggressors on sovereign Ukrainian territory, who are carrying out this war.The US says that Ukraine will not use US-supplied rocket systems to hit Russian territory. But what about special operations against targets across the Russian border? Is that OK with Washington?What is OK with us and what we have provided are systems for Ukraine to use to defend itself against Russian territory. We've been clear that the weapons we've provided, the systems we've provided, are for use on sovereign Ukrainian territory. I'm just not going to entertain hypotheticals that go beyond that.Now, Russia has another big card to play, a cold winter in Europe. How do you see the winter ahead, especially when it comes to Europe's reliance on Russia for energy?We have been working intensively with our European allies, but also partners around the world to do a couple of things. One is near-term, to see to it that there is adequate global energy supply, including shifting supply of LNG, for example, from the Indo-Pacific to Europe, ahead of this winter. We have also tapped into our Strategic Petroleum Reserve at an unprecedented level. Countries around the world are doing the same to see to it that we can stabilize the global energy supply.The situation with the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, it's really unprecedented in a war for that to happen. How concerned are you about that situation?Well, we are concerned and we're monitoring it very closely. We know that in combat operations, Russians staging their forces at this nuclear power plant — it is the height of irresponsibility. What we're calling for is an end to combat operations, to Russia's combat operations in and around the nuclear plant. We're calling, with our international partners, for a demilitarized zone. And we're also calling for access on the part of the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] to this nuclear facility as soon as possible. We've heard from the Russians that they expect the IAEA could visit as soon as next month. That is too long. This needs to happen as soon as possible.But if Russia allows IAEA inspectors to visit the plant, isn't that ceding authority of that plant and giving Russia, sort of tacitly saying, yeah, it's your plant?Well, it is Ukraine's plant.No, it is Russia's plant if they're the ones giving the authority to IAEA inspectors.This is a plant that is on sovereign Ukrainian territory. It is our position that Russia should vacate its positions at the plant that day, that the IAEA should have access to this plant. Russia has no right to anything that is on sovereign Ukrainian territory.You said the war in Ukraine will only end at the negotiating table. Who is in a position to facilitate that?Well, ultimately, these are going to be decisions that our Ukrainian partners will have to make for themselves. It is our charge, in the meantime — and by "our," I mean the collective "we," the United States and our partners and allies around the world — to provide Ukraine with what they need to strengthen their hand on the battlefield, knowing that if they are stronger on the battlefield, they will be ultimately stronger at any negotiating table that's to emerge.President Vladimir Zelenskiy keeps saying he wants to retake Crimea. He really wants to regain things he's lost. What sort of initiatives are Ukraine and its allies prepared to offer as an off-ramp to get negotiations going and to really find a peace with Russia?Well, again, these are all decisions that President Zelenskiy and his government, and ultimately the Ukrainian people, will have to make. We don't dictate targets. We don't dictate tactics. But every inch of land that Russia has seized or attempted to seize legitimately belongs to Ukraine.So, even if they want to retake Crimea, the US is willing to hang in and keep funding indefinitely?Again, we don't dictate targets. We don't dictate tactics. We provide our Ukrainian partners with what they need for self-defense. But Crimea is Ukraine.Can't the US help fight this war in providing aid and weapons as it is doing, and also help negotiate an end to it, at the same time?I am sure we will have a helping role to play, an assisting role to play, when it comes to any diplomacy that leads to an endgame when it comes to Russia's war against Ukraine. The challenge is that we have a willing Ukrainian partner, but there is no Russian counterpart to meet them at the negotiating table. So, there is not a true role for the United States to play at this time beyond providing Ukraine with what it needs to strengthen its hand on the battlefield, which will, in turn, strengthen its hand on any negotiating table that emerges.This far into the war, what do you think is different in the world order now than it was before this invasion?Well, we're defending the principle that might doesn't make right, that big countries can't bully small countries, that borders can't be redrawn by force and that a country's foreign policy can be dictated only by the sovereign decisions of a sovereign government and an independent people. That is something that Russia is trying to challenge. It's also something, by the way, that other countries around the world are trying to challenge. And there's one particularly large country, economically powerful country halfway around the world in the Indo-Pacific, that would like to see an opening to challenge these very principles. That's why it's so important that we do, and the international community does, everything we can to preserve, defend and reinforce these rules.

This interview was lightly edited and condensed for clarity. 

Related: Many Germans fear 'active participation in war' as country increases military aid to Ukraine

Why has polio emerged in the US, UK and Israel? A polio eradication expert weighs in.

class=”MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Why has polio emerged in the US, UK and Israel? A polio eradication expert weighs in.

New cases of polio have emerged in the US and Israel, and the disease has been detected in wastewater in the UK. Oliver Rosenbauer, the spokesperson for polio eradication at the World Health Organization, explains how some of them could be linked to the oral vaccine that's long been used to prevent the disease.

The WorldAugust 24, 2022 · 3:00 PM EDT

A worker walks alongside the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant's array of digester eggs in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Officials revealed last month that polio has shown up in New York sewers, suggesting it is spreading, Aug. 12, 2022.

John Minchillo/AP/File photo

The United States saw its first polio case in nearly a decade this summer. The virus has also infected several children in Israel this year and has been found in London's wastewater. Genetic analysis has linked some of these cases to the oral vaccine long used to prevent polio.

To discuss the situation, The World's host Carol Hills spoke with Oliver Rosenbauer, the spokesperson for polio eradication at the World Health Organization, who joined from Geneva. 

Carol Hills: So, how does the oral polio vaccine actually cause polio?Oliver Rosenbauer: Well, they're not exactly caused by the polio vaccine itself. What is happening is the oral polio vaccine that is being used — and that's been used all over the world billions of times, and through which polio has been almost globally eradicated — it contains a live vaccine virus. It's a weakened vaccine virus, but it's live. So, what happens is that you give this vaccine to a child and that child develops immunity, and then the vaccine virus basically multiplies in that child's gut and is actually excreted in the stool, just like a normal polio virus would. And it can actually spread to other children. In 99% of the cases, that's actually a good thing, because you passively immunize other children that way. The problem is, if you allow this vaccine virus to continue to spread in the community and to continue to circulate, and if that happens, it can become, again, genetically changed from a weakened vaccine virus to a strong vaccine virus, able to cause paralysis. And that's what is known as a vaccine-derived polio virus.What's interesting is this oral vaccine has been around for decades. Why are we seeing these cases pop up now?Well, I think we're not just seeing these cases pop up now. We've been seeing them pop up throughout the use of this particular vaccine. It's just that it's popped up in a place like New York, which hasn't had polio in a long, long time. The risk of these things emerging are very, very low. And the reason why we use this particular vaccine is that it has the ability to interrupt person-to-person spread. There's another vaccine that is used. It's called the inactivated polio vaccine — or the Salk vaccine, if you like — and it's injected. It contains an inactivated polio vaccine and it offers excellent personal protection. But the drawback on that is [that] it offers very limited ability to be able to stop person-to-person spread of the virus, and in an eradication effort, that's what we're really after.So, is there any risk of a widespread outbreak in places like the US and the UK of polio now? I mean, should we be worried?I would say the following: I think both the UK and the US did a fantastic job in identifying a public health risk. You know, there's one case in New York, which is a paralytic case — one person paralyzed by the disease, which is tragic — but for the most part, the virus has been only isolated in sewage systems. So, the local authorities have identified this risk and are, right now, doing all the right things in addressing this public health risk. And the name of the game now is to make sure that you do not allow polio to reestablish a foothold in your community. And to do that, you make sure that your population is fully vaccinated.There's been such a push to get people vaccinated against COVID-19, with messaging about how the vaccine is safe and effective, there's no risk of getting COVID-19 from the vaccine. Do you worry about how this news about polio might impact people's decisions to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or other viruses?We're worried about any person who is not vaccinated against polio, because then that individual is not protected. And certainly the vaccine that's being used in the United States, the inactivated polio vaccine, it's one of the safest, if not the safest vaccine that is out there. It is a killed vaccine virus, so there is absolutely no chance of catching polio from it. There is no chance that you would see these vaccine-derived polio cases arise with inactivated polio vaccines. The only thing that it will do, is to protect you from lifelong paralysis. And, most of us have forgotten what polio actually is. It is a devastating, deadly disease. It is an extremely painful disease. And it is so easily preventable, and so, if it's a matter of getting one injection in the arm, which is completely safe, and then be sure and be assured that you're not going to catch this disease, I think it's worth doing, definitely.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Related: An upcoming vaccine drive in Afghanistan is an ‘unprecedented opportunity’ to eradicate polio, UN official says

Why are new polio cases popping up in the US, UK and Israel? A polio eradication expert weighs in.

class=”MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Why are new polio cases popping up in the US, UK and Israel? A polio eradication expert weighs in.

New cases of polio have emerged in the US, UK and Israel. Oliver Rosenbauer, the spokesperson for polio eradication at the World Health Organization, explains how some of them could be linked to the oral vaccine that's long been used to prevent the disease.

The WorldAugust 24, 2022 · 3:00 PM EDT

A worker walks alongside the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant's array of digester eggs in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Officials revealed last month that polio has shown up in New York sewers, suggesting it is spreading, Aug. 12, 2022.

John Minchillo/AP/File photo

The United States saw its first polio case in nearly a decade this summer. The virus has also infected several children in Israel this year and has been found in London's wastewater. Genetic analysis has linked some of these cases to the oral vaccine long used to prevent polio.

To discuss the situation, The World's host Carol Hills spoke with Oliver Rosenbauer, the spokesperson for polio eradication at the World Health Organization, who joined from Geneva. 

Carol Hills: So, how does the oral polio vaccine actually cause polio?Oliver Rosenbauer: Well, they're not exactly caused by the polio vaccine itself. What is happening is the oral polio vaccine that is being used — and that's been used all over the world billions of times, and through which polio has been almost globally eradicated — it contains a live vaccine virus. It's a weakened vaccine virus, but it's live. So, what happens is that you give this vaccine to a child and that child develops immunity, and then the vaccine virus basically multiplies in that child's gut and is actually excreted in the stool, just like a normal polio virus would. And it can actually spread to other children. In 99% of the cases, that's actually a good thing, because you passively immunize other children that way. The problem is, if you allow this vaccine virus to continue to spread in the community and to continue to circulate, and if that happens, it can become, again, genetically changed from a weakened vaccine virus to a strong vaccine virus, able to cause paralysis. And that's what is known as a vaccine-derived polio virus.What's interesting is this oral vaccine has been around for decades. Why are we seeing these cases pop up now?Well, I think we're not just seeing these cases pop up now. We've been seeing them pop up throughout the use of this particular vaccine. It's just that it's popped up in a place like New York, which hasn't had polio in a long, long time. The risk of these things emerging are very, very low. And the reason why we use this particular vaccine is that it has the ability to interrupt person-to-person spread. There's another vaccine that is used. It's called the inactivated polio vaccine — or the Salk vaccine, if you like — and it's injected. It contains an inactivated polio vaccine and it offers excellent personal protection. But the drawback on that is [that] it offers very limited ability to be able to stop person-to-person spread of the virus, and in an eradication effort, that's what we're really after.So, is there any risk of a widespread outbreak in places like the US and the UK of polio now? I mean, should we be worried?I would say the following: I think both the UK and the US did a fantastic job in identifying a public health risk. You know, there's one case in New York, which is a paralytic case — one person paralyzed by the disease, which is tragic — but for the most part, the virus has been only isolated in sewage systems. So, the local authorities have identified this risk and are, right now, doing all the right things in addressing this public health risk. And the name of the game now is to make sure that you do not allow polio to reestablish a foothold in your community. And to do that, you make sure that your population is fully vaccinated.There's been such a push to get people vaccinated against COVID-19, with messaging about how the vaccine is safe and effective, there's no risk of getting COVID-19 from the vaccine. Do you worry about how this news about polio might impact people's decisions to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or other viruses?We're worried about any person who is not vaccinated against polio, because then that individual is not protected. And certainly the vaccine that's being used in the United States, the inactivated polio vaccine, it's one of the safest, if not the safest vaccine that is out there. It is a killed vaccine virus, so there is absolutely no chance of catching polio from it. There is no chance that you would see these vaccine-derived polio cases arise with inactivated polio vaccines. The only thing that it will do, is to protect you from lifelong paralysis. And, most of us have forgotten what polio actually is. It is a devastating, deadly disease. It is an extremely painful disease. And it is so easily preventable, and so, if it's a matter of getting one injection in the arm, which is completely safe, and then be sure and be assured that you're not going to catch this disease, I think it's worth doing, definitely.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Related: An upcoming vaccine drive in Afghanistan is an ‘unprecedented opportunity’ to eradicate polio, UN official says

US educators step up to help displaced Ukrainians continue their studies

class=”MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>US educators step up to help displaced Ukrainians continue their studies

Several American-based online learning platforms have made their coursework free to Ukrainians whose education has been upended by the war in their country. Students, as well as universities, are embracing the new offerings.

The WorldAugust 18, 2022 · 2:15 PM EDT

Destroyed library in the school where a graduation ceremony, called the Last School Bell, was supposed to take place in Kharkiv, Ukraine, June 2, 2022.

Andrii Marienko/AP

In February, Anna Myslytska was studying at the Kyiv School of Economics when the war came to her family’s hometown. A Russian missile hit a neighboring block.

“I was supposed to have an English exam. I was preparing for that exam,” Myslytska, 18, recalled. “And then, the next day, that all just disappeared. You were figuring out what was more valuable to put in your rucksack to take with you.”

The university shut down. Myslytska and her family fled to Romania before resettling in eastern Spain where she’s rebuilding a new life. With her country in chaos, she’s managed to continue her education with remarkably little disruption. She took her economics and general studies courses completely online, including a Greek and Roman mythology class taught by a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and produced by an American company, Coursera.

Myslytska said it’s a class she wouldn’t have taken before, because it’s a subject not linked to her field of study — economics.

Kyiv School of Economics student Anna Myslytska fled Ukraine when Russian missiles destroyed her hometown. She’s continued her education, taking courses online from Spain.

Credit:

Courtesy of Anna Myslytska

In Ukraine, it’s estimated that half of all universities switched to online teaching by the end of March and more are likely to reopen in an online format during this coming academic year.

Several American-based online learning platforms, such as Coursera and Boston-based edX, have made their coursework free to Ukrainians whose education has been upended by the war. Students, as well as universities, are embracing the new offerings.

“When the unfortunate war started in Ukraine, we felt that we had to act,” said Anant Agarwal, founder and CEO of edX, a nonprofit created 10 years ago by computer scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. The platform offers existing courses taught by professors at more than 160 colleges and universities.

Citing the Russian government’s military actions against Ukraine, edX severed its relationship with Russian institutions.

“We had a number of universities in Russia who we had partnered with, and so, one of the actions that we took was that we cut our ties with the Russian institutions,” Agarwal said.

Then, in March, edX announced it would work with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine to offer all Ukrainian colleges access to its platform.

Anant Agarwal speaks at the TEDx conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, in June 2013.

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 TEDx under a Creative Commons license

“These are courses and programs on our platform that Ukrainian students who are registered at the universities can now take up completely for free,” Agarwal explained.

Since February, edX says it’s served nearly 3,000 students like Myslytska at more than 40 Ukrainian institutions. The courses are offered in English, however, so only a minority of students can take them.

Some of the most popular courses for Ukrainian students include Exercising Leadership and Introduction to Computer Science — both from Harvard — and Advanced Data Structures from New York University.

For institutions like the Kyiv School of Economics, which offers mostly business classes, these new broad-based classes mark a major shift.

“We reshaped the curriculum,” said Yegor Stadny, vice president for undergraduate programs at the economics school.

Stadny said the school has resumed some in-person classes, but online courses offered by Ukrainian and American universities have been critical in providing shell-shocked students with more stability and opportunity.

“The mental condition of our students was not so good,” he said. “We just thought it would be better to make the curriculum and the schedule more flexible.”

Higher education is a ‘bulwark’ against authoritarianism

Since the start of the war, more than 1,500 Ukrainian educational institutions have been partially or totally destroyed in what Ukrainian academics say is Russia’s deliberate attempt to undermine their ability to teach their own history and culture. Russian soldiers have burned books, libraries and archives. They've shelled theaters and schools, including the main campus of Kharkiv University.

“The most important thing right now for Ukrainian higher ed is to try to continue in an era when many higher educational institutions have been destroyed,” said Alexandra Hrycak, who teaches sociology at Reed College in Portland, where her research focuses on Ukraine.

Hrycak’s parents immigrated to the United States after the Soviet Army occupied their hometown and declared them — and their families — “enemies of the people.”

Today, she said, the Kremlin is trying to turn back the clock to that era filled with misinformation, indoctrination and silencing.

“Russia really seeks to eliminate Ukraine from the map and replace it with some kind of proxy state,” Hrycak said.

That’s why, she said, Ukrainian professors seeking academic freedom are moving online, using their smartphones to record violent acts of war, teaching courses from bunkers and preserving their culture.

“There has been a deliberate attempt by Russian occupying forces to expunge textbooks and other kinds of learning materials and replace them with a Russian curriculum that completely erases Ukrainian history,” she said.

“Higher education is a bulwark against the threat of authoritarianism,” said Georgetown University President John DeGioia, who applauds how educators in the US have stepped up to help Ukrainians stay in school.

In 2012, Georgetown was one of the first universities to make some of its courses available for free online. Back in 2020, Georgetown commissioned a study which found that education can help tame authoritarian attitudes in the United States and abroad.

DeGioa said the mission of the American university goes beyond coursework. Essential parts include the formation of young people’s intellect, faculty research and contribution to the common good.

“These are three inextricably linked elements, but all three contribute to this challenge of responding to the threat of authoritarianism,” DeGioia said, adding that authoritarian tendencies — preferring strongman leaders and uniformity — are at odds with the mission of a university that supports autonomy and diversity.

For students like Myslystka, the free, online courses have been invaluable. But while she’s learning a lot in her Ukrainian and American-based courses online, she said, she’s eager to return to Kyiv and resume in-person classes.

Like many Ukrainians, she fears that if the educated don’t go back to rebuild the country, Ukraine will never fully recover from the war.

“The more you know, the more tools you have in your brain to deal with some problems, including huge problems like the Russian invasion,” she said.

The professor predicted direct US intervention in the event of a major Russian victory in Ukraine

Photo: pixabay.com

The situation around the Russian NVO in Ukraine could turn into US intervention in the conflict. This prediction was made by University of Chicago political science professor John Mearsheimer in an article for Foreign Affairs.

The expert describes several scenarios for American intervention at once.

If the situation is not resolved within a year, Washington, as the author believes, he may think about introducing small contingents of ground troops to help Kyiv.

A more likely scenario for US intervention, according to an American political scientist, is if the Ukrainian army “starts to fall apart, and Russia wins a major victory.” The administration of US President Joe Biden does not intend to allow such an outcome, and the United States could try to reverse the situation by deciding to directly participate in the hostilities.

There is a third option that Mearsheimer describes. It suggests unintentional escalation. So, according to this version, Washington, unwittingly, will be drawn into a military conflict by some unforeseen event that “develops in an upward spiral.”

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China calls US delegation’s visit to Taiwan ‘dangerous move’

Beijing urges Washington to stop interfering in the country's internal affairs and adhere to the “one China” policy, Liu Xiaoming, special representative of the Chinese government for the Korean Peninsula, wrote on Twitter.

This is how the diplomat commented on the next trip of US congressmen to Taiwan. As reported by Reuters, five members of Congress visited the island, who will stay there until August 15.

“This is a very dangerous move, which is like playing with fire. And those who play with fire will die from it. We urge the countries concerned to adhere to the “One China” policy, properly handle issues related to Taiwan, and stop interfering in Beijing's internal affairs,— said Liu Xiaoming.

Anyone who tries to prevent China's reunification will face “a great wall of steel forged by the hands of over 1.4 billion citizens,” he said.

Reuters reports first US oil tanker arrives in Germany

The tanker loaded crude oil off the coast of Louisiana in the US and offloaded it in Rostock, Germany, Reuters reported. German refineries are looking for alternatives to Russian raw materials due to the partial EU embargo, which will come into force in December 673w” type=”image/webp” media=”(max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >

Tanker Capricorn Sun

A tanker has delivered US sour crude to the German city of Rostock for the first time amid attempts by local refineries to find an alternative to Russian crude, Reuters reported, citing sources, analysts and vessel tracking data.

We are talking about the tanker Capricorn Sun. It loaded crude oil off the coast of Louisiana in the US and offloaded it in Rostock on August 3, the agency writes.

The tanker was delivering high-sulphur Mars Sour oil. This is the first shipment of this oil to Germany.

According to Jim Mitchell, head of oil research in the Americas at Refinitiv, in the past there were only “a few” US oil in Germany from the United States. deliveries of another grade— West Texas Sour.

German refineries are looking for an alternative to Russian oil in connection with the partial EU embargo. It will come into force in December and will affect sea supplies of Russian raw materials. Under the EU ban, not only oil in its pure form will fall, but also as part of mixtures— so-called blends.

This embargo was included in the sixth package of EU sanctions. The European Union expands restrictive measures against Russia in connection with the events in Ukraine.

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Reuters learned the details of the ambulance delivery of US weapons to Ukraine for $ 1 billion

Reuters: The United States will supply Ukraine with shells for HIMARS and NASAMS air defense systems as part of $ 1 billion assistance ” type=”image/webp” media=”(max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >

The next U.S. security support package to Ukraine will be one of the largest to date, with an estimated $1 billion in weapons and equipment planned for transfer, Reuters reported, citing three people familiar with the matter.

It is planned to that Ukraine will receive ammunition for the multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) HIMARS, surface-to-air missile system; NASAMS and 50 tracked M113 armored personnel carriers, the agency writes. It remains unclear whether the munitions are intended for NASAMS already delivered to Kyiv, or the shells will be pre-positioned in Ukraine before the delivery of launchers, Reuters notes.

US President Joe Biden has not yet signed a document on the allocation of this aid package , its composition may change, sources told Reuters. Ukraine will receive the planned set of weapons and equipment under Biden's authority to transfer Pentagon stocks without congressional approval as a response to an emergency.

NASASMS systems are produced by the American Raytheon Technologies and the Norwegian Kongsberg.

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The material is being supplemented.

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CNN learns about plans for US and Indian exercises near the disputed border with China

The United States and India will practice combat training at high altitude less than 100 km from the disputed territory, which is also claimed by China, writes CNN. In June, the United States expressed concern about the development of China's military infrastructure in the region “image/webp” media=”(max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >

US and Indian troops will take part in a joint military exercise in October in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, which is located near the disputed territory where the India-China border runs. This is reported by CNN, citing a source among high-ranking military officers of the Indian army.

The exercise will focus on combat training at high altitude, and will take place at an altitude of 10,000 feet (3,000 m), about 95km from the line of actual control, an unnamed source said.

The Pentagon told CNN that the partnership with the Indian side is “one of the most important elements” for the US. a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific. Exercises between the US and Indian armies will improve “interoperability” to ensure regional security, the Pentagon is sure. The demarcation line on the border of India and China was carried out in 1962 after the border war, its length exceeded 4 thousand km. The actual border of the two states runs along the line, but there is no generally recognized demarcation between them in this area, the parties dispute these territories.

In May, the Indian Foreign Ministry reported that China was building a second bridge over Pangong Lake in a disputed area that New Delhi considers occupied by Beijing. During a visit to India in June, U.S. Army Pacific Commander General Charles Flynn called China's development of military infrastructure on the border with India “alarming.” and “instructive.” China then assessed the visit of the American general as an attempt to “stoke the flames”.

There have been skirmishes between the Chinese and Indian military more than once, one of the latest occurred in mid-June 2020. In New Delhi, it was reported that the fight lasted about six hours without the use of firearms, only with sticks, stones and clubs with nails. 20 Indian soldiers were killed, the number of deaths on the Chinese side is unknown. The Indian Foreign Ministry blamed China for the incident.

In December last year, the Pentagon noted a concentration of Chinese troops near the demarcation line, which caused alarm among department officials, an unnamed official told The Foreigh Policy. According to him, the cause of concern was the redeployment of Chinese strategic bombers to the border. Washington is in contact with New Delhi at “all levels”, the United States began to share intelligence with India about the movements of the Chinese military more often, the source said.

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Trump compares the US to a third world country

Moreover, the United States has become a country that “is no longer respected and no longer listened to”, he is convinced .webp 673w” type=”image/webp” media=”(max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >v6_top_pics/resized/320xH/media/img/7/98/756598569926987.webp 320w” type=”image/webp” media=”(max-width: 320px)” >

Donald Trump

Former US President Donald Trump likened the United States to a third world country. He made the comparison during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas.

“We are in many ways a third world country. We are a country whose economy is floundering, whose supply chains are disrupted, stores are not full, whose packages do not reach, and whose education system is at the bottom of any list, — he declared.

Moreover, the United States has become a country that is “no longer respected or listened to.”

Americans— “a nation in decline,” the former president noted. He pointed to the worst inflation in more than 40 years and the highest energy prices in history.

The United States is no longer an independent country in energy and is forced to “beg” for Venezuela and Saudi Arabia on oil supplies.

At the end of March, Trump was already comparing the United States to a third world country due to a shortage of goods. “You go to the store, and there is no bread, — Trump said.— We are like a third world country that has no goods. He also gave another example: “You go shopping at Tiffany or you're going to buy something at a hardware store and they don't have any.”

Read on RBC Pro Pro What you need to know about buying property in Thailand: nuances and tips Articles Pro Eight exercises to look like James Bond Instructions Pro A disaster is approaching in the cryptocurrency mining market. What investors should do Articles Pro How to convince a stubborn interlocutor: advice from psychology Articles Pro Why only 8% of Russians strive for unlimited wealth Research Pro Companies change software at extreme speeds. What mistakes they make Pro Morgan Stanley instructions: why the rebound of US stocks is not for long In particular, he accused Biden of “killing the American dream”, and the United States has become “a laughingstock” over the past two years. and “land of decline.” According to him, the United States is forced to endure one historic humiliation after another on the world stage. Trump is convinced that if he himself led the United States, there would be no hostilities in Ukraine and a rapid increase in inflation in the United States.

The ex-president has repeatedly admitted that he would fight for the post of head of state. In mid-July, he said he had made a decision about running in the 2024 presidential election. Trump promised that he would continue to engage in politics, otherwise the United States will become “another Venezuela, the Soviet Union or Cuba.”

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Lavrov called unpromising US attempts to dominate the world

According to the minister, Washington has taken a course to suppress the independence of other states, but Moscow believes that the future belongs to sovereign states, President Putin noted

Video

The US policy of dominating all parts of the globe and suppressing the independence of other countries has no prospects, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) ministerial events.

According to the minister, the United States “is trying to assert its dominance” around the world and demonstrate “permissiveness”.

“Each time, those who follow this understand the futility of a policy according to which you can close your eyes to one situation, one crisis created by the United States, and expect that everything will be more or less good. No, the Americans have taken a course towards suppressing any independence, — Lavrov said (quote from RIA Novosti).

He pointed out that examples of such an approach and violations of their own principles are the actions of the United States in Ukraine, where Washington ignored the “racist policy”; and nurtured the “threat” Moscow, and the visit to Taiwan of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, despite the protests of China.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that a new period of history has begun in the world, as the unipolar system is being demolished, which “Western and so-called supranational elites” would like to keep. However, in this new period, development will be provided by “genuinely sovereign states,” the head of state said.

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Last year, US President Joe Biden pointed out that Russia and China were “betting on autocracy” and therefore “democracy must stand up and show what we can do.” In addition, he noted that the United States should be the leader of the free world, because no one else in the world can play such a role. The American leader also claimed that American troops were “fighting” for democracy “on the battlefields around the world” because democracy “is in danger”; and its struggle against authoritarianism is going on.

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US vows ‘no saber rattling’ over China’s dissatisfaction with Pelosi

Kirby: US is ready for Beijing's move over Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, but doesn't want conflict Washington is ready to respond to Beijing's moves over the visit of the speaker of the House of Representatives to Taiwan, but does not seek conflict with China, Kirby said. He emphasized that Pelosi's arrival does not contradict the principle of “one China” image/webp” media=”(max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >

John Kirby

The United States expects China to take action in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, National Security Council (NSC) strategic communications coordinator White said at a briefing home John Kirby.

He said that Washington is ready to respond to possible actions by Beijing, but does not intend to create a crisis situation and does not seek conflict with China: “We do not intend to” saber-rattling “.

There is no reason, Kirby said, for Beijing to turn Pelosi's visit into a crisis or “use it as an excuse to ramp up aggressive action or military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait.” He emphasized that the trip of the Speaker of the House of Representatives is in line with Washington's commitment to the One China concept.

Pelosi flew to the capital of partially recognized Taiwan on the evening of August 2 as part of an Asian tour. The Chinese authorities, who call the island, which declared its independence from the PRC in 1949, their territory, considered that the speaker thus “challenged the world”; and deliberately committed a provocation, for which the US government should be held accountable. The Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned US Ambassador Nicholas Burns and protested. The Chinese army also announced the start of a shooting exercise near Taiwan.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also views Pelosi's visit as a “clear provocation.” "The fundamental position of Russia is unchanged: we proceed from the fact that there is only one China, the government of the People's Republic of China– the only legitimate government representing all of China, and Taiwan – an integral part of China,” the agency said.

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Lavrov accused the US of trying to show impunity with Pelosi’s visit

Foreign Minister Lavrov: Pelosi's visit to Taiwan is an attempt to show impunity According to Lavrov, the United States is acting on the principle of “what I want, I turn back”, including in the situation with Ukraine. The minister added that he sees “no reason to create such an irritant out of the blue”

Video

The visit of Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan reflects the desire of the United States to prove its impunity to everyone, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference following talks with Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maun Lwin, the broadcast was conducted by the department on Rutube.

“The fact that this reflects the very line that we are talking about in relation to the Ukrainian situation, I have no doubts” this desire to prove to everyone and all their impunity and to show their permissiveness: what I want, then I turn back, — he said, adding that he saw “no reason to create such a stimulus out of the blue.”

Pelosi flew to Taiwan on the evening of August 2 without warning. She visited the local parliament and met with the President of the Republic, head of the Democratic Progressive Party Tsai Ing-wen. Upon her arrival, Pelosi noted that she wanted to support the “bright and dynamic” democracy and confirm Washington's intention to support the island.

China, which criticized Washington at the stage of preparing the visit, accused the United States of provocation. The State Council of the country said that Taiwan “colluded with outside forces” and undermined the peaceful development of relations with mainland China. Beijing also warned that Pelosi's trip would also undermine Sino-American relations.

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After Pelosi's plane landed in Taipei, Chinese troops began firing exercises off the coast of Taiwan. In response, the republic increased the combat readiness of the army. The White House, in turn, admitted that Beijing may respond to US actions, although “China has no pretext for increasing aggressive actions or military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait.” Washington is not seeking to create a crisis around the island, the US administration added.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has already condemned the US actions and called Pelosi's trip a “provocation” aimed at containing China. The official representative of the department, Maria Zakharova, admitted that Washington thus wants to divert the attention of its citizens from internal problems, and the world community— from Ukraine.

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The Foreign Ministry announced the frozen US and EU dialogue with Moscow on anti-terror

Russian Foreign Ministry: The US and the EU have frozen the dialogue with Moscow on combating terrorism According to the director of the Foreign Ministry department Vladimir Tarabrin, cooperation between Russia, the EU and the US in the field of counterterrorism is actually frozen. He pointed out that today “we need such a dialogue no more than Westerners” type=”image/webp” media=”(max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >

Director of the Department for New Challenges and Threats Russian Foreign Ministry Vladimir Tarabrin

The United States and EU countries, under far-fetched pretexts, froze the dialogue with Moscow on the fight against terrorism, said in an interview with RIA Novosti Director of the Department for New Challenges and Threats of the Russian Foreign Ministry Vladimir Tarabrin.

“Cooperation between Russia and the United States in the field of anti-terror is now virtually frozen,”— he said.

Tarabrine recalled that Washington “under false pretenses” unilaterally decided to suspend the profile meetings within the framework of the dialogue under the auspices of the foreign ministries of Russia and the United States, which were held in 2018-2019 in Vienna. “A similar situation has developed with the European Union through its fault,” — he added.

“For our part, we proceed from the fact that we need such a dialogue no more than Westerners, and if someone is not ready for it due to their own phobias and distorted ideas about its equal basis , then this is no longer our problem,»— underlined Tarabrin.

After the start of the military operation in Ukraine, Western countries have already introduced several packages of sanctions against Moscow, and the US Senate also called on the State Department to include Russia in the list of countries— sponsors of terrorism. Now the list of sponsors of terrorism in the United States includes four countries— Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Syria.

Being on the list means strict restrictions on interaction with this state, a ban on the export of defense goods, control over the export of dual-use products, financial and other restrictions— these measures are included in the list of anti-Russian sanctions. In addition, sanctions are envisaged against other states that maintain trade relations with a sponsor of terrorism.

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July 28, the Senate passed a resolution with an appeal to the head of the US State Department, Anthony Blinken, to include Russia in the list of such states. The document mentions military operations in Ukraine, as well as the “brute force” that Russia used “against civilians during the Second Chechen War”; and Moscow's support for “separatists in acts of brutality against Ukrainian civilians in the Donbass” and some other reasons.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned that Moscow would not leave such an “idiotic” measure unanswered. In the Kremlin “very negatively” assessed the potential consequences of such a move, noting, however, that it would be difficult to spoil relations between the United States and Russia even more.

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WSJ learned about increased US pressure on Iran to renew the JCPOA

According to the newspaper, the US intends to impose sanctions against companies in the UAE that export significant amounts of Iranian oil under the guise of Iraqi

Washington may soon impose sanctions against a businessman and a number of companies from the UAE, which, according to the United States, are engaged in “mixing” and transshipment of oil products from Iran. Thus, the United States intends to influence Iran and force it to return to negotiations on the resumption of the nuclear deal, according to The Wall Street Journal.

According to the newspaper, US law enforcement agencies suspect several companies in the UAE of forging documents on the origin of the country of oil. Thus, Iranian oil was marked in the documents as Iraqi, the supplies of which are not under Washington's sanctions.

The sanctions will continue to escalate until “the Iranians accept the proposal and return to the JCPOA,” a senior administration official for US President Joe Biden told the WSJ.

According to US military sources, the Iraqi-born British and UAE citizen Salim Ahmed Saeed and the corporation AISSOT associated with him are transshipping Iranian oil. Said himself denied any connection with the company.

In 2015, Iran, the US, Russia, France, the UK, Germany and China signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). States— the parties to the deal agreed not to impose sanctions on Tehran in exchange for its renunciation of the development of nuclear weapons, restrictions on the degree of uranium enrichment and access of IAEA inspectors to Iran's nuclear facilities.

Washington in 2018 During the presidency of Donald Trump, he pulled out of the deal, citing Tehran's violation of the agreements. Iran responded by enriching uranium above the permitted level.

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In the fall of 2021, US President Joe Biden announced his readiness to return to compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal if Iran takes similar steps. Negotiations between the parties took place in Doha at the end of June. The American side was represented by Special Envoy Robert Malley, the Iranian— Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani. Enrique Mora, Political Director of the EU Foreign Service, acted as the coordinator.

On June 30, Mora said that the parties had made no progress following the talks, Reuters reported. According to the Iranian agency IRNA, Iran considered the approach of the West to the negotiations “inadequate”. Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi noted that untrue accusations were made against Tehran, since the IAEA confirms the transparency and peaceful orientation of the country's nuclear program.

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