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Posted by Ukrap on

У Дніпрі волонтери відкрили доброчинну «фабрику Святого Миколая»

Подарунки збирають на «фабриці» та в понад 20 точках по місту. Люди приносять канцтовари, книги, іграшки, солодощі тощо

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Норвежець Карлсен достроково переміг росіянина в матчі за світову шахову корону

Норвезький гросмейстер Маґнус Карлсен є 16-м чемпіоном світу з шахів

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Зеленський призначив Микиту головою Закарпатської ОДА

Кабінет міністрів погодив призначення Віктора Микити головою Закарпатської ОДА 9 грудня

Posted by Worldkrap on

Supreme Court Won’t Stop Texas Abortion Ban, But Oks Clinics’ Suit

The Supreme Court has ruled that Texas abortion providers can sue over the state’s ban on most abortions, but the justices are allowing the law to remain in effect.

The court acted Friday, more than a month after hearing arguments over the law that makes abortion illegal after cardiac activity is detected in an embryo. That’s around six weeks, before some women even know they are pregnant. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

The law has been in place since Sept. 1.

The outcome is at best only a partial victory for abortion providers. The same federal judge who already has once blocked the law almost certainly will be asked to do so again. But then his decision will be reviewed by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has twice voted to allow enforcement of the abortion ban.

The case could return to the justices and so far there have not been five votes on the nine-member court to put the law on hold while the legal fight plays out.

The court’s conservative majority also seems likely to roll back abortion rights in a Mississippi case that was argued last week, although that decision is not expected until the spring.

The high court ruling came a day after a state court judge in Texas r uled that the law’s enforcement, which rewards lawsuits against violators by awarding judgments of $10,000, is unconstitutional yet left the law in place.

The vote was 8 to 1 in favor of allowing the lawsuit to proceed, with only Justice Clarence Thomas voting the other way.

The court fight over the Texas law is focused on its unusual structure and whether it improperly limits how the law can be challenged in court. Texas lawmakers handed responsibility for enforcing the law to private citizens, rather than state officials.

The law authorizes lawsuits against clinics, doctors and anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion performed after cardiac activity is detected. That’s usually around six weeks of pregnancy before some women even know they are pregnant.

The case raised a complex set of issues about who, if anyone, can sue over the law in federal court, the typical route for challenges to abortion restrictions. Indeed, federal courts routinely put a hold on similar laws, which rely on traditional enforcement by state and local authorities.

The court was divided 5-4, with conservatives in the majority, on another knotty issue, whom to target with a court order that ostensibly tries to block the law. The court ruled that Texas licensing officials may be sued, but dismissed claims against state court judges, court clerks and Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Chief Justice John Roberts and the three liberal justices dissented from that part of the decision in an opinion that said the purpose of the Texas law was “to nullify this court’s rulings” on abortion.

“The nature of the federal right infringed does not matter; it is the role of the Supreme Court in our constitutional system that is at stake,” Roberts wrote.

In a separate opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor chastised her colleagues for what she said was “delay” in the case that has had “catastrophic consequences for women seeking to exercise their constitutional right to an abortion in Texas.” She said the court’s decision closed off the most direct route to challenging the law and would “clear the way” for other states to “reprise and perfect Texas’ scheme in the future to target the exercise of any right recognized by this court with which they disagree.”

Since it took effect in September, the law has imposed t he most restrictive abortion curbs in the nation since the Supreme Court first declared a woman’s right to an abortion in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

In its first month of operation, a study published by researchers at the University of Texas found that the number of abortions statewide fell by 50% compared with September 2020. The study was based on data from 19 of the state’s 24 abortion clinics, according to the Texas Policy Evaluation Project.

Texas residents who left the state seeking an abortion also have had to travel well beyond neighboring states, where clinics cannot keep up with the increase in patients from Texas, according to a separate study by the Guttmacher Institute.

The justices declined to block the law once before, voting 5-4 in September to let it take effect. At the time, the three appointees of former President Donald Trump and two other conservative colleagues formed the majority.

Following the September vote, the Justice Department filed its own lawsuit over the Texas law. The justices on Friday dismissed that suit, which raised a separate set of thorny legal issues.

Posted by Worldkrap on

NYC COVID Vaccine Mandates For Private Businesses Become First In US

A controversial vaccine mandate put in place by New York mayor Bill de Blasio has been temporarily blocked until December 14th hearing on whether the measure should go forward. If the judge rules in de Blasio’s favor the mandate be the most far-reaching of its kind for private sector workers in the country. Nina Vishneva reports in this story narrated by Anna Rice.

Posted by Ukrap on

Україна отримала від США 30 Джавелінів та 180 ракет – Арестович

Частина озброєння вже на позиціях українських військових – радник голови ОП

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Уряд Швейцарії продовжив заморожування активів Януковича та його оточення

Швейцарський уряд нагадує, що ці активи були заморожені в лютому 2014 року «у зв’язку з тодішньою ситуацією в Україні»

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Був у «розстрільних списках». У Києві попрощалися з військовим волонтером Сергієм Максимцем

На початку війни проживав у Донецьку. Нагороджений відзнаками, зокрема батальйону «Донбас-1» і 25-ї бригади

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Blinken Arrives in Britain on Trip to Further Advance Indo-Pacific Strategy

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday arrived in Liverpool, England, to begin a series of in-person meetings with foreign ministers regarding the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as part of a December 9-17 trip that also will take him to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Hawaii.

The top U.S. diplomat will meet Friday with G-7 leaders, including British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

Blinken’s trip is part of a U.S. effort to further advance its “strategic partnership” with ASEAN as President Joe Biden’s administration aims to begin a new “Indo Pacific Economic Framework” in early 2022.

 

For the first time, ASEAN members are invited to participate in a two-day G-7 foreign and development ministers’ meeting being held in Liverpool beginning Friday. The G-7 is the grouping of the world’s wealthiest democracies, known more formally as the Group of Seven.

Blinken is scheduled to meet with some of his counterparts from the southeast Asian bloc during the G-7 gathering before heading to the Asia-Pacific rim next week.

In Jakarta, he will deliver remarks on the significance of the Indo-Pacific region and underscore the importance of the U.S.-Indonesia Strategic Partnership.

“The Secretary will have an opportunity to discuss the president’s newly announced Indo-Pacific economic framework,” State Department’s Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink told reporters in a call briefing. “President Biden is committed to elevating U.S.-ASEAN engagement to unprecedented levels,” he added.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim majority nation. Kritenbrink told VOA on Wednesday that Blinken will attend a vaccine clinic hosted by the largest faith-based NGO in Indonesia.

Blinken then heads to Malaysia and Thailand where he will attempt to advance U.S. ties and address shared challenges, including COVID-19, building resilient supply chains, the climate crisis, and ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

The State Department said Blinken will “address the worsening crisis in Burma” in each country during the lengthy trip. Burma is also known as Myanmar, where the military seized power in a February coup, overthrowing the civilian government.

U.S. officials had indicated the new “Indo Pacific Economic Framework would include broad partnerships with nations in the region on critical areas, including the digital economy and technology, supply chain resiliency and clean energy.

“The Indo-Pacific region is a critical part of our economy. It’s not just that it accounts for over half of the world’s population and 60% of global GDP,” Jose Fernandez, undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy, and the environment, said in a recent briefing.

“Seven of the top 15 U.S. export markets are in the Indo-Pacific. Two-way trade between the U.S. and the region was over $1.75 trillion,” he added.

There are, however, concerns that the United States is lagging behind China in deepening economic and strategic ties with ASEAN.

“ASEAN countries want more from Washington on the economic side, but the Biden administration’s proposed Indo-Pacific economic framework is likely to fall short of their expectations,” said Susannah Patton, a research fellow in the foreign policy and defense program at the United States Studies Center in Sydney.

“After RCEP enters into force, there will be two mega-trade pacts in Asia: RCEP and CPTPP, and the United States is in neither,” said Patton, referring to a trade agreement known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, as well as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“China’s application to join CPTPP, a vehicle that was designed to promote U.S. economic ties with Asia, highlights Washington’s absence,” Patton told VOA Wednesday. The CPTPP is a free trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam that was signed in 2018.

In November 2020, 10 ASEAN member states and five additional countries (Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand) signed the RCEP, representing around 30% of the world’s gross domestic product and population. RCEP will come into force in January.

Others said the new Indo-Pacific economic framework appears to be not just about traditional trade, as Washington is signaling strategic interests in the region.

 

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press and Reuters.

Posted by Worldkrap on

German Parliament Approves COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Health Workers

Germany’s Bundestag – the lower house of parliament – approved a measure Friday requiring health care workers to be vaccinated, the first step by the country’s new government to fight the latest surge of COVID-19.

The measure passed 571 to 80 and was expected to be approved by parliament’s upper house later Friday.   

The legislation would also force state governments to implement other restrictions, such as closing bars and restaurants, or banning large events, if infection rates get too high. It also expands who can deliver vaccinations to include veterinarians, dentists and pharmacists.

The government of Germany’s new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has made fighting the pandemic a priority and Scholz has indicated his support for vaccine mandates. A broader vaccine mandate could be debated by parliament in coming weeks.  

Prior to the lower house vote Friday, new German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, an epidemiologist, told lawmakers there was no time to lose in protecting the population from the coronavirus pandemic.  

He said a vaccine mandate for health workers was necessary because, as he sees it, “it’s completely unacceptable… that after two years of pandemic, people who have entrusted their care to us are dying unnecessarily in institutions because unvaccinated people work there.”

The legislation would require healthcare workers at hospitals, doctor’s offices and nursing homes to prove that they are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 by mid-March.

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases ((RKI)) reports as of Friday, 69.4 percent of the country’s population has been fully vaccinated. 

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse

Posted by Ukrap on

Понад 36 тисяч ноутбуків передали вчителям у 18 областях – МОН

У рамках проєкту «Ноутбук кожному вчителю» у 18 областей України доставлено 36 635 ноутбуків, повідомило Міністерство освіти і науки.

«Поставки в регіони відбуваються швидко та стабільно. Цього тижня вперше отримали ноутбуки вчителі з Донецької, Тернопільської, Рівненської, Херсонської та Одеської областей», – йдеться в повідомленні.

Повідомляється, що ноутбуки оснащені всім необхідним для дистанційної роботи вчителя – камерою, потужним процесором та можливістю під’єднання до інтернету.

Усього до кінця року за державною субвенцією мають закупити 60 тисяч ноутбуків для вчителів із 24 областей та міста Києва. З держбюджету на це виділили 980 млн грн. Середня вартість одного ноутбука за субвенцією – 17 900 грн.

 

Posted by Ukrap on

Украерорух: трафік в українському небі в листопаді складав 87% від докризового рівня

В Україні позитивна динаміка збільшення трафіку завдячує поступовому відновленню транзитного потенціалу, додали в агенції

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Байден обговорив дії Росії з «Бухарестською дев’яткою»

Президент США і лідери Болгарії, Чехії, Естонії, Угорщини, Латвії, Литви, Польщі, Румунії та Словаччини обговорили «дестабілізуюче нарощування Росією військової могутності на кордонах з Україною»

Posted by Worldkrap on

US Campaign to Vaccinate Young Children Off to Sluggish Start

The United States rushed millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses for children ages 5-11 across the nation, but demand for inoculations for younger kids has been low, more than a dozen state public health officials and physicians said.

Of the 28 million eligible U.S. children in that age group, around 5 million have received at least one dose, according to federal data, likely satisfying initial pent-up demand from parents who were waiting to vaccinate their kids.

At the current pace, fewer than half of U.S. children ages 5-11 are expected to be fully vaccinated in the coming months, state officials told Reuters. Some states, including Mississippi, said thousands of vaccine doses are sitting idle.

“We are concerned that the demand is not going to be as quick and as great as it was for the adult population,” said Karyl Rattay, director of Delaware’s division of public health.

A smaller dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for those aged 5-11 received U.S. authorization last month, with the first shots going into young arms on Nov. 3.

Vaccine hesitancy among adult caregivers has affected the vaccination rate for this age group more than other groups, physicians told Reuters.

“I think parents are nervous. There’s probably a cohort of parents who felt comfortable vaccinating themselves… but are hesitant to vaccinate their children,” said Dr. Matthew Harris, a pediatrician leading COVID-19 vaccinations for the Northwell Health hospital system in New York.

The push to vaccinate children has taken on fresh urgency amid concerns that the new Omicron variant of the virus, first identified in southern Africa and Hong Kong in late November, will spread quickly in the United States, causing a surge in infections already back on the rise from the easily transmitted delta variant.

Given the pervasiveness of delta and prospects of new variants spreading in the United States, “having as much immunity in the population as possible is critical,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

While serious illness and death from COVID-19 among children is relatively rare, cases among unvaccinated people under age 17 have increased in recent months. Infected children can also pass COVID-19 to other people at higher risk of serious illness, including those who have already been vaccinated.

Some parents have been concerned about reports of heart inflammation, a rare vaccine side effect seen in young men at higher rates than the rest of the population.

On Tuesday, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said the agency has been scouring its database of adverse events and has not found any reports of the condition among 5- to 11-year-old recipients of the vaccine.

The children’s vaccine rollout may also be hampered by staffing shortages at healthcare providers, and greater reliance on pediatricians as opposed to larger and more efficient mass vaccination centers, said Sean O’Leary, a professor of pediatrics at University of Colorado.

Fewer than 20% of U.S. children ages 5-11 have gotten at least one shot so far, compared to around 80% of U.S. adults, according to federal data. Of particular concern is that the number of U.S. children getting COVID-19 shots may already be plateauing.

In the past week, more children have been receiving a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine than a first, according to government data. That suggests a slowdown in demand aside from those who were anxious to get their kids vaccinated at the first opportunity.

“I think what we were hoping for was that parents would have these meaningful conversations with pediatricians and that would provide them confidence to vaccinate their kids,” Northwell’s Harris said. “I’m not sure that that’s really come to fruition.” 

 

 

 

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Amid Pandemic, Russian Disinformation With Chinese Characteristics

The Kremlin and Chinese Communist Party are learning from each other in shaping and conducting information warfare aimed at exacerbating political divisions in the West and undermining trust in democracy, according to a new study.

While there’s only limited evidence of explicit cooperation, there are instances of narrative overlap, said the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington-based research organization.

According to the report, which focuses on disinformation campaigns since the late-2019 discovery of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China, Beijing’s information warriors largely began by following the Russian “disinformation playbook,” copying disinformation narratives, tools and techniques, but now some simultaneous learning is taking place.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) spread disinformation about the efficacy of vaccines and the virus’s origins, a shift from Beijing’s previous disinformation campaigns, which had a narrower focus on China-specific issues such as Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan,” said researchers Ben Dubow, Edward Lucas and Jake Morris.

“Narrative overlap and circular amplification of disinformation show that China is following a Russian playbook with Chinese characteristics. Russia is simultaneously learning from the Chinese approach,” the authors said.

“The largest difference between China’s and Russia’s information warfare tactics remains China’s insistence on narrative consistency, compared with Russia’s firehose-of-falsehoods strategy,” they added. “Even with substantially greater resources, this largely prevents Chinese narratives from swaying public opinion or polarizing societies.”

Thousands of websites

For the study, CEPA’s researchers assembled thousands of website articles and social media messaging from Russian and Chinese government officials and state-backed media from March 2020 through March 2021. That was complemented by an overview of research conducted by other groups and academic institutions into Russian and Chinese disinformation, which is defined as narratives based only partially on truth and purposefully meant to mislead.

“Russia largely followed its preexisting playbook of using crises to inflame tensions in foreign societies. China borrowed some tools from Russia but used them for different ends, sanitizing its own record and spreading conspiracy theories on a global scale,” said the study, “Jabbed in the Back: Mapping Russian and Chinese Information Operations During COVID-19,” which was released last week.

The day before the report was published, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced it had removed more than 600 social media accounts linked to a Chinese influence operation that claimed the United States was pressuring the World Health Organization to blame COVID-19 on the Chinese government.

CEPA authors said China and Russia have used the pandemic as an excuse to try to further erode faith in democracy and wage information warfare against the West, opening another propaganda front in the growing competition between democratic and authoritarian governments.

Speaking Thursday in Washington on the first day of a virtual Summit for Democracy, U.S. President Joe Biden said it was a critical moment and called for democratic leaders to “lock arms” to show the world that democracies are far better vehicles for societies than autocracies.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken warned Wednesday that the pandemic has heightened the challenges for democratic states, and he blamed “unscrupulous leaders” for spreading misinformation and disinformation.

The report said China continues to reject any Western blame for its handling of the outbreak. The Kremlin routinely denies accusations that it creates or perpetuates disinformation campaigns of any kind.

Designed to exploit divisions

Western officials say Russia and China have long aimed to weaken the United States, blunt the appeal of democratic institutions and exploit divisions, adding to polarization in the West. They say these governments have seized on the pandemic to enhance their international influence through disinformation operations.

Russian and Chinese information campaigns — using fake social media accounts and platforms such as Twitter to promote conspiracy theories amplified by state-run media outlets — are having a mutually reinforcing effect, they say.

According to the CEPA report, China and Russia have played a central role in spreading COVID-related disinformation. China has attempted to sanitize its record by promoting itself as the most effective global partner in combating the ailment, while Russian disinformation networks have focused on trying to undermine faith in Western efforts to curb the infection.

The report found that Chinese disinformation campaigns intensified in response to former President Donald Trump’s accusations that the coronavirus may have escaped from a Chinese lab in Wuhan, and then again after the U.S. intelligence community reported that same possibility to President Joe Biden.

Russia has innovated in spreading vaccine disinformation throughout Europe, CEPA said. In May 2021, it said, social media influencers in France and Germany were approached by a London-based group controlled from Moscow that offered to pay them to spread disinformation about the Pfizer vaccine.

The CEPA researchers also noted there are likely limits on any Sino-Russian convergence in the information environment. China information warriors follow more consistent and rigid narratives, presumably directed to do so by their bosses. While that gives the CCP more control over messaging, it leaves Beijing less successful than the Kremlin at tailoring content for specifically targeted audiences.

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US Actor Convicted of Staging Attack, Lying to Police

Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett was convicted Thursday on charges he staged an anti-gay, racist attack on himself nearly three years ago and then lied to Chicago police about it.

In the courtroom as the verdict was read, Smollett stood and faced the jury, showing no visible reaction.

The jury found the 39-year-old guilty on five counts of disorderly conduct — for each separate time he was charged with lying to police in the days immediately after the alleged attack. He was acquitted on a sixth count, of lying to a detective in mid-February, weeks after Smollett said he was attacked.

Outside court, special prosecutor Dan Webb called the verdict “a resounding message by the jury that Mr. Smollett did exactly what we said he did.”

Judge James Linn set a post-trial hearing for Jan. 27 and said he would schedule Smollett’s sentencing at a later date. Disorderly conduct is a felony that carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have said if convicted, Smollett would likely be placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.

The damage to his personal and professional life may be more severe. Smollett lost his role on the TV program Empire after prosecutors said the alleged attack was a hoax, and he told jurors earlier this week that “I’ve lost my livelihood.”

The jury deliberated for just more than nine hours Wednesday and Thursday after a roughly one-week trial in which two brothers testified that Smollett recruited them to fake the attack near his home in downtown Chicago in January 2019. They said Smollett orchestrated the hoax, telling them to put a noose around his neck and rough him up in view of a surveillance camera, and that he said he wanted video of the hoax made public via social media.

Smollett testified that he was the victim of a real hate crime, telling jurors, “There was no hoax.” He called the brothers liars and said the $3,500 check he wrote them was for meal and workout plans. His attorneys argued that the brothers attacked the actor — who is gay and Black — because they are homophobic and didn’t like “who he was.” They also alleged the brothers made up the story about the attack being staged to get money from Smollett, and that they said they wouldn’t testify against him if Smollett paid them each $1 million.

In closing arguments Wednesday, Webb told jurors there was “overwhelming evidence” that Smollett staged the attack, then lied to police about it for publicity. He said Smollett caused Chicago police to spend enormous resources investigating what they believed was a hate crime.

“Besides being against the law, it is just plain wrong to outright denigrate something as serious as a real hate crime and then make sure it involved words and symbols that have such historical significance in our country,” Webb said.

Defense attorney Nenye Uche called the brothers “sophisticated liars” who may have been motivated to attack Smollett because of homophobia or because they wanted to be hired to work as his security.

 

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Biden Seeks to Allay Ukraine’s Concerns of Possible Russian Invasion

The United States is seeking to reassure Kyiv that Washington’s strategy to prevent a Russian military invasion will work, despite Washington’s refusal to send ground troops to help defend Ukrainian soil.

U.S. President Joe Biden spent nearly an hour and a half on the phone Thursday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, updating Ukraine’s leader on his discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week.

Biden also sought to “underscore our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity … and his commitment to respond with strong measures in the event of a Russian military escalation,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

Zelenskiy, posting on Twitter, said the conversation also covered “possible formats for resolving the conflict in Donbas and touched upon the course of internal reforms in Ukraine.” 

Biden also spent 40 minutes Thursday on the phone briefing leaders of the Bucharest Nine group — Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia — U.S. allies on NATO’s eastern flank.

Ukraine and Washington’s Eastern European allies have been asking the U.S. for defensive aid and other help in the event Russia decides to invade Ukraine after massing forces along the border.

Ukrainian intelligence officials have said there are at least 90,000 Russian troops along the border. The Washington Post reported last week that U.S. intelligence thought that number could swell to 175,000 ahead of a multifront offensive set to kick off, potentially, early next year.

U.S. defense officials on Thursday declined to comment directly on the numbers but said Russia’s troop presence appeared to be holding steady.

“We’re monitoring it closely, and there still is a very sizable military presence in western Russia, near Ukraine, near Ukraine’s borders,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters. “There’s been no major changes to that posture.”

Biden on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of sending additional U.S. troops to Ukraine to counter a possible Russian invasion, telling reporters, “That is not on the table.”

Pressed Thursday on whether anything less than a show of U.S. military force could get Russia to pull its forces back from the border with Ukraine, the White House expressed cautious optimism that its current strategy and the discussions with Putin were helping.

“Our objective is to make clear the significant and severe economic consequences if Russia were to invade Ukraine, not just from us but from the global community,” Psaki said.

“You would know if they had made the decision to invade. They have not,” she said. “But, again, the ball is in his [Putin’s] court.”

For its part, Russia on Thursday accused the West of exaggerating the importance of its troop movements and warned Ukraine of trying to take matters into its own hands.

“NATO countries pay excessive attention to troop movements on Russian territory,” Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, was quoted as saying by Russia’s Tass news service.

“The media reports on Russia’s alleged preparation for an invasion into Ukraine is a lie,” Gerasimov said. “The deliveries of helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and aircraft to Ukraine are pushing the Ukrainian authorities towards abrupt and dangerous steps.”

Despite such warnings, U.S. officials have committed to providing Ukraine and other allies with help, if needed.

“There are options to expand security assistance to assist in Ukraine’s self-defense,” Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl told a virtual security summit Wednesday, pointing to the ongoing provision of ammunition, Javelin anti-tank systems, counter mortar radar and other capabilities.

Other officials said that the final elements of a $60 million security assistance package to Ukraine were being delivered this week.

“We are working with them across the board, and that does include the kinds of anti-armor, defensive weaponry that is central to their planning for how they would try to resist a substantial incursion,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

In the meantime, there is also a possibility for additional, higher-level talks between the U.S., Russia and other NATO countries, something the U.S. president said could happen by the end of the week.

Some analysts said they did not see a lessening of tensions along the Russian-Ukraine border anytime soon.

“What Russia really wants is to have its security interests and its geostrategic interests respected,” Andrew Lohsen, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told VOA.

“The current Russian government is quite sensitive to the NATO threat and is clearly demonstrating a willingness to take extreme measures to address that threat,” Lohsen said. “I think we’re in for a process of very complicated and long negotiations to find where there might be some way to find a diplomatic off-ramp.”

VOA’s Patsy Widakuswara contributed to this report.

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UN: Genocide Remains Threat, Must Be Prevented

The United Nations marked the day of remembrance of victims of genocide with a warning that the crime has not been relegated to the history books but remains a threat today.

The U.N. set the tone for its observance of the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime with a video of scenes of violence and devastation in Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq — countries that have experienced the horrors of genocide. The video also contained scenes of reconciliation and the voices of young people calling for a peaceful and inclusive world.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a virtual global audience that history tends to repeat itself. He urged people to remain vigilant and to understand the early warning signs of genocide. 

“Today, we face the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945,” he said. “They are lasting longer and are increasingly complex. Impunity is rife, and human rights and the rule of law are regularly ignored. Identity-based hate speech, incitement and discrimination continue to spread and are increasingly being used for political manipulation and gain.” 

The U.N. chief said these are alarming warning signs that should prompt action. 

U.N. experts and human rights organizations have produced numerous reports of gross violations, many amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Some reports allege genocide is being committed in Myanmar, China and Ethiopia, among other nations. 

The president of the 76th session of the General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, said the body has a responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. 

“Genocide does not happen overnight or without warning. It is preceded by a buildup of human rights violations, bigotry, hatred and division,” Shahid said. “It culminates in bloodshed. … That is why we must always meet the forces of bigotry and hatred with tolerance and inclusion. That is why we must celebrate diversity.”

Genocide is a term used to describe violence against members of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group with the intent to destroy the entire group.

In 1948, three years after the end of World War II when the full extent of the Holocaust was revealed, the United Nations declared genocide to be an international crime. The term was coined in recognition of the massive crimes committed by the Nazis, who killed 6 million European Jews and also targeted Roma people and sexual minorities. 

The International Day of Commemoration honors the memories of the millions of victims killed in targeted genocide and presses for action to prevent future genocide from occurring. 

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New York City Lawmakers Pass Bill Giving Noncitizens Right to Vote

Noncitizens in New York City would gain the right to vote in municipal elections under a measure approved Thursday by the City Council that would give access to the ballot box to 800,000 green card holders and so-called Dreamers.

Only a potential veto from Mayor Bill de Blasio stood in the way of the measure becoming law, but the Democrat has said he would not veto it. It’s unclear whether the bill would face legal challenges.

The council’s vote was a historic moment for an effort that had long languished.

Council member Francisco Moya, whose family hails from Ecuador, choked up as he spoke in support of the bill.

“This is for my beautiful mother who will be able to vote for her son,” said Moya, while joining the session by video with his immigrant mother at his side.

More than a dozen communities across the United States already allow noncitizens to cast ballots in local elections, including 11 towns in Maryland and two in Vermont. But New York City is the largest place by far to give voting rights to noncitizens.

Noncitizens still wouldn’t be able to vote for president or members of Congress in federal races, or in the state elections that pick the governor, judges and legislators.

The city’s move could enflame the national debate over voting rights, particularly among some who wrongly assert that rampant fraud by noncitizens has taken place in federal elections.

Last year, Alabama, Colorado and Florida adopted rules that would preempt any attempts to pass laws like the one in New York City. Arizona and North Dakota already had prohibitions on the books.

“The bill we’re doing today will have national repercussions,” said the council’s majority leader, Laurie Cumbo, a Democrat who opposed the bill. She expressed concern that the measure could diminish the influence of African American voters.

Legally documented, voting-age noncitizens comprise nearly one in nine of the city’s 7 million voting-age inhabitants. The measure would allow noncitizens who have been lawful permanent residents of the city for at least 30 days, as well as those authorized to work in the U.S., including so-called Dreamers, to help select the city’s mayor, city council members, borough presidents, comptroller and public advocate.

“It is no secret; we are making history today. Fifty years down the line when our children look back at this moment, they will see a diverse coalition of advocates who came together to write a new chapter in New York City’s history by giving immigrant New Yorkers the power of the ballot,” council member Ydanis Rodriguez, a main sponsor of the bill, said in a statement after Thursday’s vote.

The law would direct the Board of Elections to draw up an implementation plan by July, including voter registration rules and provisions that would create separate ballots for municipal races to prevent noncitizens from casting ballots in federal and state contests. Noncitizens wouldn’t be allowed to vote until elections in 2023.

Even if de Blasio were to decide to veto the bill, there was enough support to override it. The measure will become law by default if the mayor decides not to act on it. The incoming mayor, Eric Adams, has said he supports the bill.

Council member Joseph Borelli, the Republican leader, said a legal challenge is likely. Opponents say the council lacks the authority on its own to grant voting rights to noncitizens and should have first sought action by state lawmakers. 

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Marking ‘International Anti-Corruption Day,’ Biden Administration Announces Raft of Sanctions

To mark “International Anti-Corruption Day,” the Biden administration announced a raft of sanctions Thursday on 15 foreign government officials and companies it says are involved in corruption.

The announcement of sanctions covering people and companies in Central America, Africa and Europe came as Biden opened a virtual “democracy summit.”

Among those targeted by the U.S. Treasury Department measures are officials from El Salvador and Guatemala whom the Biden administration accuses of corruption in the procurement of COVID-19-related medical supplies.

It said Salvadoran Chief of Cabinet Martha Carolina Recinos De Bernal allegedly was involved in “suspicious procurements” of medical supplies. A Guatemalan official, Manuel Victor Martinez Olivet, was accused of “misappropriation, fraud, and abuse of authority” regarding contracts.

“Corrupt acts take resources from citizens, undermine public trust, and threaten the progress of those who fight for democracy,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.

Sanctions were also levied on two South Sudanese construction companies for allegedly receiving preferential treatment by officials.

Additionally, sanctions were imposed on Ukrainian Andriy Portnov, the former deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential administration under former President Viktor Yanukovych. Portnov is accused of buying influence in Ukraine’s court system.

Also sanctioned were former Angolan officials accused of embezzling billions of dollars.

Some information in this report came from Reuters.