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Posted by Worldkrap on

Biden Touts Infrastructure Bill at Snowy, Rusty Bridge in NH

Fighting sagging poll ratings, President Joe Biden set out Tuesday on a national tour to persuade everyday Americans of the benefits of his big, just-signed infrastructure plan. First stop: a snowy, rusty bridge in New Hampshire, a state that gave him no love in last year’s presidential primaries. 

Biden left the state in February 2020 before polls had even closed on his fifth-place primary finish. But he returned as president, eager to talk up the billions in investments in upgrading America’s roads, bridges and transit systems that he signed into law Monday.

Walking across the rural New Hampshire bridge that’s been tagged a priority for repairs since 2014, Biden framed the infrastructure law in direct and human terms. He said it would have a meaningful impact here, from efficient everyday transportation to keeping emergency routes open. 

“This isn’t esoteric, this isn’t some gigantic bill — it is, but it’s about what happens to ordinary people,” he said. “Conversations around those kitchen tables that are both profound as they are ordinary: How do I cross the bridge in a snowstorm?” 

Biden hopes to use the successful new law to shift the political winds in his direction and provide fresh momentum for his broader $1.85 trillion social spending package now before Congress. 

The president held a splashy bipartisan bill-signing ceremony Monday for hundreds on the White House South Lawn, where lawmakers and union workers cheered and clapped. 

“America is moving again, and your life is going to change for the better,” Biden promised Americans.

The president and members of his Cabinet are moving, too — spreading out around the country to showcase the package. Biden himself travels Wednesday to Detroit, Michigan, to promote the new law as a source of jobs and repairs for aging roads, bridges, pipes and ports while also helping to ease inflation and supply chain woes.

“As he goes around the country, he’s really going to dig into how these issues will impact people’s everyday lives, what they talk about at their kitchen tables,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. 

Also this week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan will take a tour through the South, hitting Louisiana and Texas, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will visit Massachusetts, California and the state she represented in Congress, New Mexico, and Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Ohio, among top administration officials on the road. 

The president is pleading for patience from Americans exhausted by the pandemic and concerned about rising inflation. The White House says the infrastructure funding could begin going out within months, and they say it will have a measurable impact on Americans’ lives by helping create new, good-paying jobs. 

During his New Hampshire stop Tuesday, Biden said there were 215 bridges deemed “structurally unsafe” and 700 miles of highway in the state listed in poor condition, which he said costs residents heavily each year in gas and repairs.

In addition to speeding repairs to roads and bridges, Biden touted the law’s investments in upgrading public transit and trains, replacing lead pipes and expanding access to broadband internet. The law, he said, is estimated to create an extra 2 million jobs a year, and he insisted it also would improve supply chain bottlenecks that have contributed to rising prices for consumers by providing funding for America’s ports, airports and freight rail. 

On Tuesday, the president visited a bridge that carries state Route 175 over the Pemigewasset River. Built in 1939, the bridge has been on the state’s “red list” since 2014 because of its poor condition. Another bridge over the river was added in 2018.

“This may not seem like a big bridge, but it saves lives and solves problems,” Biden said. 

New Hampshire’s Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who planned to greet Biden at the airport, sent a letter to the president Tuesday asking him to work with Congress to earmark even more infrastructure funding for the state. He also urged Biden to address supply chain issues, workforce shortages and the rising cost of construction materials. 

“Ensuring that roads get built, bridges get repaired, and drinking water gets improved will be even more challenging given the economic challenges Washington seems oblivious to,” Sununu said. 

Under the funding formula in the bill, New Hampshire will receive $1.1 billion for federal-aid highways and $225 million for bridges, the White House said.

The infrastructure bill overall contains $110 billion to repair aging highways, bridges and roads. According to the White House, 173,000 total miles or nearly 280,000 kilometers of U.S. highways and major roads and 45,000 bridges are in poor condition. The law has almost $40 billion for bridges, the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the national highway system, according to the Biden administration. 

Many of the particulars of how the money is spent will be up to state governments. Biden has named former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu as the liaison between the White House and the states to help ensure things run smoothly and to prevent waste and fraud.


Posted by Ukrap on

Міносвіти звернулося до керівників влади в регіонах із листом про відновлення очного навчання у школах

Наразі, за інформацією Міністерства освіти України, на дистанційну форму навчання переведені 7,3 тисячі шкіл (51 % від загальної кількості)

Posted by Worldkrap on

Biden Bans Nicaragua Officials from Entering United States

President Joe Biden on Tuesday banned members of the Nicaraguan government from entering the United States as he issued a broad proclamation in response to an election that Washington has denounced as rigged in favor of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

Biden’s travel ban applied to all of Nicaragua’s “elected officials,” apparently including Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, in addition to security force members, judges, mayors and others seen as undermining democracy in the Central American nation.

“The repressive and abusive acts of the Ortega government and those who support it compel the United States to act,” Biden said in the decree.

Biden’s order came just a day after the United States, Britain and Canada imposed targeted sanctions on Nicaraguan officials in a concerted response to the November 7 election that many countries have called a sham.

They took the action after Ortega’s re-election to a fourth consecutive term after jailing political rivals and cracking down on critical media.

Ortega has derided his U.S. critics as “Yankee imperialists” and accused them of trying to undermine Nicaragua’s electoral process. Cuba, Venezuela and Russia have offered Ortega their backing.

Previous sanctions and travel bans on certain Nicaraguan officials imposed by Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, have failed to deter Ortega, and many analysts are skeptical whether new measures will have much impact.

The Organization of American States (OAS) adopted a resolution on Friday saying Nicaragua’s election lacked “democratic legitimacy.” Twenty-five nations voted in favor and seven abstained, including Mexico, Honduras and Bolivia. 

Posted by Ukrap on

Закордонний паспорт отримала 104-річна жителька Одеси – міграційна служба

Проблеми зі здоров’ям жінки призвели до необхідності лікування за кордоном

Posted by Ukrap on

Білорусь повідомила про розміщення в логістичному центрі неподалік кордону з Польщею 850 мігрантів

Сьогодні мігранти на білорусько-польському кордоні продовжили спроби прорватися до Польщі через колючий дріт

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Balkan Fears Grow as Western Countries Mull Sanctions

Threats by the leader of the Serb-majority Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, to break his mini-state away from Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country shakily balanced between Croats, Bosniaks and Serbs, is adding to growing regional and international dismay at unfolding developments in the Balkans.

Dodik’s threats combined with a major rearmament program by neighboring Serbia are fueling concerns the Balkans could be heading for conflict.

Serbia started negotiating last month with Israel about buying anti-tank missiles and some European Union officials suspect Belgrade may be in the process of reaching out to Ankara to discuss buying the type of Turkish-made armed drones used with devastating effect by Azerbaijan in its recent clash with Armenia.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says his Balkan neighbors shouldn’t be alarmed about the rearming, which he casts as an updating of his country’s armed forces, and says Belgrade has no offensive intentions. Earlier this year, he said: “Everyone is rearming and we will also rearm. If everyone else, does it, we must too.”

Alarm rising

But Serbia’s neighbors are unsettled by the rearmament program, which has seen Belgrade increase its defense spending by 70% since 2015, and by what they see as Vucic’s increasing nationalist rhetoric.

Belgrade has also provided strong political backing for Dodik.

Last week Christian Schmidt, the specially appointed High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina, warned the U.N. Security Council that the war-scarred Balkans is facing its biggest threat since the ethnic cleansing and wars of the early 1990s. “The prospects of further division and conflict are very real,” he said.

And he urged the international community to curb any threatened separatist actions by Bosnian Serbs.

Alarm is also rising in Western European capitals, with officials noting that Vucic’s arms purchases have served to deepen Serbia’s relations with China and Russia, which is sympathetic to Dodik’s ambitions to separate his mini-state and have it join Serbia.

Britain’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, has placed the Balkans on the agenda for next month’s meeting of NATO’s foreign ministers in Riga, according to British officials. Germany has been pressing fellow EU member states to prepare sanctions against Dodik. Heiko Maas, German foreign minister, said Saturday that Berlin wants to see “individual measures against those who question the territorial integrity” of Bosnia.

Maas added: “We will not be able to accept the continuation of this irresponsible policy without taking action.” He accused Republika Srpska of “actively working to destroy Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole state.”

A former British foreign minister, William Hague, warned Tuesday: “History has shown many times that we neglect the western Balkans at our peril.” He said: “For years, the leader of the Serb-majority Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, has been undermining the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina with active Russian and Serbian support,” he wrote in a commentary for The Times newspaper. “In recent weeks the situation has become grave. Dodik is coming close to secession from Bosnia,” he added.

Unresolved disputes

He and others fear unresolved disputes from the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s and simmering tensions between Croatia, which has also been rearming, and Serbia are jeopardizing stability in the Western Balkans. The Balkan disputes also include disagreements over the status of Kosovo, the former Serbian province, which declared independence in 2008 after a war that killed more than 13,000 people, mainly ethnic Albanians.

EU-brokered talks aimed at normalizing relations between Serbia and Kosovo restarted recently but a cross-border dispute in September prompted by Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti decision not to recognize Serbian automobile license plates saw Belgrade deploy tanks to its border with Kosovo and Vucic announce economic and political sanctions against the former Serb province.

The Serb leader urged the international community to intervene and warned if it didn’t “we will know how to protect our country, there is no doubt about it.” Hundreds of Kosovo Serbs closed a key border road and Kosovo officials dispatched extra police units.

But it is Dodik’s secession talk that is of the most immediate worry for Western powers, say U.S. and European diplomats. They fear that if Dodik tries to tear Bosnia apart it would risk triggering a new Balkans conflict that could all too easily reignite disputes between Serbia and Croatia as well as between Serbia and Kosovo, plunging the Western Balkans into a replay of the vicious inter-ethnic wars that erupted on the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

The 1995 U.S.-brokered Dayton Accords set up the multi-ethnic state of Bosnia as an international protectorate with complex power-sharing constitutional arrangements among the three principal ethnic groups that make it up. It has two semi-autonomous entities: the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Republika Srpska but Dodik has threatened to pull out of Bosnia’s state-level institutions, including the army and has been militarizing his police which could serve as a reconstituted ethnic Bosnian Serb armed force. He has also said he wants to set up a separate judiciary.

The 62-year-old Dodik last month warned he will speed up his secession plans, if Western sanctions are imposed on him, telling Gabriel Escobar, a U.S. envoy, “F*** the sanctions,” according to a leaked transcript of the meeting. “If you want to talk to me, then stop threatening me,” he told Escobar.

Dodik has warned that any NATO military intervention aimed at preventing him from breaking up Bosnia will be opposed by his “friends,” seen as a reference to the rearmed Serbia and Russia. Vucic appeared last month to rein in Dodik, saying, “It is important to preserve peace and show that Republika Srpska is not the source of the problem, but that we are all ready to talk in the region.”

But he added Serbia will not join in any sanctions against Republika Srpska. 

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Polish Forces Use Water Cannons on Migrants Who Threw Stones

Polish border forces on Wednesday said they were attacked with stones by migrants at the border with Belarus and responded by using water cannons against them.

The Border Guard agency posted video on Twitter showing a water cannon being directed across the border at a group of migrants in a makeshift camp in freezing temperatures.

Polish police said one officer was seriously injured. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital and it is likely his skull was fractured after being hit by an object.

The situation marks an escalation in a tense migration and political border crisis where the lives of thousands of migrants are at stake.

Poland’s Defense Ministry said its soldiers and other border forces were attacked with stones and other objects.

The ministry also said that Belarusian forces tried to destroy fencing along the countries’ common border, while the Interior Ministry posted video apparently showing migrants trying to tear down a fence.

There was no way to independently verify what was happening because a state of emergency in Poland is keeping reporters and human rights workers out of the border area. In Belarus journalists face severe restrictions on their ability to report as well, with only a few present at the border.

At one point Tuesday a Polish independent broadcaster, TVN24, was forced to rely on CNN in order to show a picture of the border not filtered through government authorities.

Poland’s parliament is expected Tuesday to take up a legislative proposal that would regulate the ability of citizens to move in the area of the border with Belarus after the state of emergency ends at this end of this month.

The state of emergency was imposed at the beginning of September as a large number of migrants from the Middle East sought to cross into Poland from Belarus.

The border is also part of the European Union’s eastern border, and the EU accuses the authoritarian regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of fomenting a migration crisis in order to pressure the bloc.

The EU has been putting pressure on airlines to stop transporting Syrians, Iraqis and others to Belarus.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi government is urging its citizens trapped at the border to return home.

Some 200 Iraqi nationals who arrived in Belarus with the intention of crossing into the EU reached out to the Iraqi embassy in Russia and expressed a desire to return to their homeland, an embassy spokesman told the Interfax agency on Tuesday.

The spokesman added that an evacuation flight will take place on Thursday and all those wishing to return to Iraq are already in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, awaiting the flight. There were no issues with transporting the migrants from the border to Minsk, the diplomat told Interfax, and Belarusian authorities have provided all the necessary assistance.

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Russia Rejects Accusations that Anti-satellite Missile Endangers ISS Astronauts

Russian officials on Tuesday rejected accusations that they endangered astronauts aboard the International Space Station by conducting a weapons test that created more than 1,500 pieces of space junk.

U.S. officials on Monday accused Russia of destroying an old satellite with a missile in what they called a reckless and irresponsible strike. The debris could do major damage to the space station as it is orbiting at 17,500 mph (28,000 kph).

Astronauts now face four times greater risk than normal, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told The Associated Press.

The test clearly demonstrates that Russia, “despite its claims of opposing the weaponization of outer space, is willing to … imperil the exploration and use of outer space by all nations through its reckless and irresponsible behavior,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos wouldn’t confirm or deny that the strike took place, saying only that “unconditional safety of the crew has been and remains our main priority” in a vague online statement released Tuesday.

Russia’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday confirmed carrying out a test and destroying a defunct satellite that has been in orbit since 1982, but insisted that “the U.S. knows for certain that the resulting fragments, in terms of test time and orbital parameters, did not and will not pose a threat to orbital stations, spacecraft and space activities” and called remarks by U.S. officials “hypocritical.”

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also charged that it is “hypocrisy” to say that Russia creates risks for peaceful activities in space.

Once the situation became clear early Monday morning, the four Americans, one German and two Russians on board the International Space Station were ordered to immediately seek shelter in their docked capsules. They spent two hours in the two capsules, finally emerging only to have to close and reopen hatches to the station’s individual labs on every orbit, or 1 1/2 hours, as they passed near or through the debris.

NASA Mission Control said the heightened threat could continue to interrupt the astronauts’ science research and other work. Four of the seven crew members only arrived at the orbiting outpost Thursday night.

A similar weapons test by China in 2007 also resulted in countless pieces of debris. One of those threatened to come dangerously close to the space station last week. While it later was dismissed as a risk, NASA had the station move anyway.

Anti-satellite missile tests by the U.S. in 2008 and India in 2019 were conducted at much lower altitudes, well below the space station at about 260 miles (420 kilometers.)