From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved

    This file is attached to from “Beast That Came Out Of The Sea” - Chapter Eight by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved.
    This link will return you to Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.
    This link will take you back to King Of The West 2022 January or continue to King Of The West 2022 March


2/1/2022 Oil up $0.73 to $88.13, DOW up 405 to 35,151.

2/1/2022 Sen. Menendez: We’re On 1-Yard Line For Russian Sanctions Bill by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., speaks during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations to
examine U.S.-Russia policy with testimony from Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State for
Political Affairs, on Capitol Hill, Dec. 7, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool, File)
    A bipartisan group of senators believe they are close to striking a deal on legislation for sanctions against Russia.    Senate Foreign Relations Committee leaders say they are on the “one-yard line” to agreeing on measures that slaps sanctions on Russia amid mounting tensions over Ukraine.
    Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Republican Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) appeared on CNN Sunday to discuss their objectives and the status of those negotiations.
    “If Putin sees weakness, if he sees bumbling, if he sees an ineptitude, if he sees indecision he will take advantage of that,” said Risch.    “I don’t think he’s made a decision to do that yet. What Bob and I and our coalition of bipartisan senators are attempting to do is to project the resolve that we have as Americans to see that he doesn’t do that.”
    To this end, Sen. Menendez’s version of the bill, which he calls the “mother of all sanctions,” targets Russian officials and financial institutions if Russia demonstrates a significant escalation of hostilities against Ukraine.
    “These are sanctions beyond any that we have ever levied before and I think that sends a very clear message,” asserted the New Jersey lawmaker.
    However, timing is one point of contention when to actually impose sanctions on Russia.    The Biden administration has maintained the position that it would wait to hit Russia with sanctions until they invade Ukraine while others like Sen. Risch want to impose them now, preemptively before such a breech can occur.
    FILE – Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, speaks during the Senate Armed Services and Senate Foreign Relations
GOP news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 19, 2022. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
    Yet, both senators believe there are certain sanctions that could take place up-front because of aggressions Russia has already demonstrated, including cyberattacks on Ukraine, false flag operations and efforts to undermine the Ukranian government internally.
    “But the devastating sanctions that ultimately would crush Russia’s economy and the continuing lethal aid that we are going to send, which means Putin has to decide aid how many body-bags of Russian sons are going to return to Russia,” Menendez stated.    “You know, the sanctions that we’re talking about would come will later on if he invades.    Some sanctions would come up front for what he has done already, but the lethal aid will travel no matter what.”
    Last week, Senate Democrats voted down Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) legislation proposed sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.    The 745-mile pipeline is valuable because it would pump gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, cutting transit costs for Russia by completely bypassing Ukraine.
    Sen. Risch indicated that the Foreign Relations Committee hasn’t yet come to agreement on what to do with regard to the pipeline, adding that will be the last t-crossed and i-dotted before “putting the ball in the end zone.”

2/1/2022 Consumer Spending Tumbles As Inflation Rises by OAN Newsroom
Photo of Andrew Jackson on a $20 bill is shown, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in Cleveland.
A measure of prices that is closely tracked by the Federal Reserve rose 5.8% last year, the sharpest
increase since 1982, as brisk consumer spending collided with snarled supply chains to raise
the costs of food, furniture, appliances and other goods. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
    The Federal Reserve noted the biggest increase of inflation since 1982. New data shows consumer spending dropped while prices soared in December.    The Fed’s Commerce Department reported on Friday that inflation jumped to 5.8 percent, which is the biggest increase since 1982.
    What’s behind the data? Surging Omicron cases reduced traffic to restaurants and other venues.    Also, fear of shortages of goods at stores likely drove consumers to get a head-start to their holiday shopping instead of waiting until December.
    Meanwhile, businesses have continued to struggle to hire employees, which has led to staff shortages and supply chain issues.    Perishable products are expiring before reaching the retail shelves and food prices jumped half a percent as a consequence.    It has been immediately evident to shoppers.
    The Federal Reserve reportedly plans to raise interest rates several times this year beginning in March in an attempt to control skyrocketing consumer good prices.

2/1/2022 UK’s Johnson Cannot Answer Party Questions Because Of Police, Minister Says by Guy Faulconbridge
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab visit the The Foreign, Commonwealth
and Development Office (FCDO) Crisis Centre in London, Britain August 27, 2021. Jeff Gilbert/Pool via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cannot answer specific questions over lockdown parties at his Downing Street office and residence because he does not want to prejudice a police investigation into 12 gatherings, his deputy said on Tuesday.
    British police are reviewing more than 500 pieces of paper and over 300 photographs as part of an investigation into whether the Downing Street gatherings, including some attended by Johnson himself, broke COVID-19 lockdown laws.    The inquiry is expected to take weeks.
    “If he does start answering specific questions that have been referred to the police, he will be accused, in fact fairly and rightly, of prejudicing or preventing or interfering in that investigation,” Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab told Sky News.
    Johnson’s personal ratings and support for his Conservative Party have plummeted since revelations about parties emerged late last year, posing a serious threat to his premiership.
    A limited report by senior civil servant Sue Gray on Monday found that alcohol-fuelled events had taken place at Downing Street when lockdown rules were in force.    Gray said there had been “serious failures of leadership” and that some of the events should not have been permitted.
    Opinion polls showed British voters felt Johnson should resign: 69% in a Savanta ComRes poll and 63% in a YouGov survey.
    Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said on Monday Johnson was unfit to lead the country and should quit, while Conservative former Prime Minister Theresa May asked if Johnson had simply ignored the COVID rules or didn’t understand them.
    Although there is rising dissent in his own party, in order to trigger a leadership challenge 54 of the 359 Conservative members of parliament (MPs) must submit letters of no confidence and that figure has not been reached.
    After initially saying that no rules were broken, Johnson has repeatedly declined to answer specifics about his own attendance at some of the gatherings.
    He later admitted being at one but said he thought it was a work event.    On Monday, he repeatedly declined to say if he had been at a gathering at his own apartment above the 10 Downing Street office, citing the police investigation.
    Opposition parties have said the police inquiry should not preclude Johnson from answering specific questions, especially in parliament.
    “What happened was the Metropolitan Police asked that the full report not be published at the moment, but the idea that that prevents the prime minister from saying whether he was at a party on a particular day is absolute nonsense,” Starmer told BBC TV.
    Johnson has committed to publishing any further update from Gray, who said she had been unable to provide a “meaningful report” because of the police investigation, meaning further damaging revelations could still come.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Michael Holden and Catherine Evans)

2/1/2022 Kyiv-Bound, UK’s Johnson Vows To Uphold Ukraine’s Sovereignty by Andrew MacAskill
FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks outside 10 Downing Street
in London, Britain, January 31, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
    LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will vow to uphold Ukraine’s sovereignty on a visit to Kyiv on Tuesday as part of the West’s diplomatic efforts to stop a possible Russian invasion which Moscow says there is no proof it is planning.
    It comes as the United States said it is in active discussions with allies about possible U.S. troop deployments to NATO’s eastern flank, separate from some 8,500 forces already placed on alert last week.
    Russia, which seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backs separatists in the east of the country, is demanding security guarantees including a promise NATO will never admit Kyiv.
    The United States has said there is little chance of Ukraine joining soon but that the country should decide its own future, as Washington and Moscow clash over post-Cold War security arrangements in Europe and concerns over energy supplies.
    Tensions were on display at the United Nations Security Council on Monday over the troop build-up near Ukraine as both Russia and the United States used the international forum to label each other as “provocative.”
    Johnson, who is facing calls to quit over gatherings held at his offices despite lockdown rules, is due to meet Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as he focuses on Britain’s global role in the world, which he has much touted since Brexit.
    “We urge Russia to step back and engage in dialogue to find a diplomatic resolution and avoid further bloodshed,” he said in remarks released ahead of his arrival.
    “As a friend and a democratic partner, the UK will continue to uphold Ukraine’s sovereignty in the face of those who seek to destroy it.”
    Johnson is due to discuss with Zelenskiy what strategic support Britain can offer to Ukraine. London has supplied defensive weapons and training personnel to Ukraine, though ministers have said that the deployment of combat troops is unlikely.
    On Monday, the United States and Britain said they were prepared to punish Russian elites close to Russian President Vladimir Putin with asset freezes and travel bans if Russia enters Ukraine.
    Poland has said it had offered neighboring Ukraine tens of thousands of munitions, and was awaiting a reply.
    The United States ordered the family members of its government employees in Belarus to leave as it warned against travel there amid tensions over Ukraine.
    Further diplomatic efforts are expected on Tuesday.
    A call between Johnson and Putin, which had been planned for Monday, could take place on Tuesday, according to Downing Street.
    French President Emmanuel Macron and Putin agreed during an exchange on Monday to maintain a dialogue on implementing the Minsk agreements regarding Donbass, a region of eastern Ukraine where Moscow has backed separatist fighters.
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to speak by phone with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
    The State Department said on Monday it had received a written follow-up from Russia after Washington submitted responses last week to Moscow’s demands over security arrangements on the continent.
    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had previously said that U.S. and NATO statements describing Russia’s main demands as unacceptable did not leave much room for optimism.
    The United States said it would not comment publicly on the reply at this stage.
    “It would be unproductive to negotiate in public, so we’ll leave it up to Russia if they want to discuss their response,” a State Department spokesperson said.
(Writing by Costas Pitas; Editing by Michael Perry)

2/1/2022 U.S. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield Calls Russia-Ukraine Conflict ‘Urgent, Dangerous’ by OAN Newsroom
FILE – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks to reporters during a
news conference at United Nations headquarters on March 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
    U.S. and Russian delegates traded barbs at a United Nations Security Council meeting.    On Monday, Joe Biden’s ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, urged urged UNSC members to rally behind America and Ukraine She added, Russia’s buildup of military troops near its border with Ukraine goes against the UN charter.
    This was the first public UN meeting on the Russia-Ukraine crisis and came at the request of America.    Russia and China reportedly banded together to try to block the meeting from the public, but attempts were squashed by 10 other members.
    Thomas-Greenfield echoed the Biden administration’s narrative that a potential Russian invasion is “urgent” and “dangerous,” but she promised her Russian counterpart that she’s willing to sit down and hash out a resolution.
    “The United States has been clear: if this is truly about Russia’s security concerns in Europe, we are offering them an opportunity to address these concerns at the negotiating table,” stated the U.S. ambassador.    “The test?    The Russians good faith in the coming days and weeks is whether they will come to that table and stay at that table until we reach an understanding.”
    Thomas-Greenfield went on to allege the implications of a Russian invasion, claiming if Russia moves into Ukraine it will also threaten the stability of all of Europe.    This comes as more than 100,000 Russian troops are reportedly stationed outside the Russia-Ukraine border, which the U.S. diplomat says are combat ready.    She added, this is the largest buildup of troops in Europe in decades and stirred up former aggressive actions taken by Russia.
    “If Russia further invades Ukraine, none of us will be able to say we didn’t see it coming and the consequences will be horrific,” Thomas-Greenfield noted.    “Which is why this meeting is so important today.”
    However, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzia, dismissed Thomas-Greenfield’s comments as incendiary rhetoric.    Nebenzia accused the U.S. of embellishing his government’s intensions and further maintained the Kremlin’s stance that Russia is not planning to invade.
Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzia is pictured. (Alexander Shcherbak/TASS/Getty Images)
    The Russian diplomat reiterated Russia has only two demands that would help simmer tensions: the non-inclusion of Ukraine into NATO and the pullout of NATO troops from territories surrounding Russia.
    “You want it to happen, you’re waiting for it to happen as if you want to make your words become a reality,” he stated.    “This is despite the fact that we are constantly rejecting these allegations.    Our security demands are much broader: the non-inclusion exception of Ukraine to NATO, the non -deployment in its territory of foreign troops.    All of this is just one part of the agreement that could fundamentally improve the military political situation in Europe.”
    Nebenzia also called out the U.S. for its hypocrisy on the situation while pointing out the Biden administration has been touting funneling military assistance to Ukraine.
    “It’s difficult to explain why our colleagues from the U.S. and a number of other countries are actively pumping Ukraine full of weapons and ammunition,” he noted.    “And talk about this with great pride.”
    In the meantime, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield stressed she and other Biden diplomats will continue to push an approach of aggressive diplomacy to resolve the conflict.
    Additionally, Ambassador Nebenzia asserted Russia and Ukraine are currently negotiating revisions of a 2015 ceasefire agreement. He warned western powers meddling in these talks will do insurmountable damage to Ukraine’s stability.
    Meanwhile, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN underscored the importance of finding a peaceful resolution stressing “everyone will suffer even if you are far away from Ukraine.”

2/1/2022 Trump’s PAC Announces Over $122M Cash On Hand, $51M Raised In 2021 by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on September 25, 2021 in Perry, Georgia. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
    Donald Trump’s political action committees reported record-setting fundraising, fueling hopes for a red wave in November’s midterms.    According to reports this week, his PACs have $122 million cash on hand and raised a total of $51 million in the second half of last year.
    An average donation was $31 and more than 1.6 million people have donated to the 45th president.    Trump’s PACs are funded mostly by everyday Americans with more than 98 percent of donors contributing less than $200 each.
    While speaking at his rally in Texas over the weekend, Trump said Joe Biden and the Democrats are a disgrace to a great country.
    “Corruption, lawless political establishments like this should not be allowed to continue,” he stated.    “In 2022, we are going to start by ending Nancy Pelosi’s political career once and for all and then we’re going to kick the Biden crime family out of the White House in 2024.”
    Trump stressed lawmakers on the left must stop pushing rules on everyday Americans that they fail to follow themselves.    He also said Democrat-led institutions censor, cancel and persecute ordinary citizens for speaking the truth.
    The ‘Save America’ PAC has already spent 1.35 million on Republican causes and midterm candidates.    Meanwhile, Trump has not yet confirmed whether he plans to run for president in 2024.

2/1/2022 Sen. Collins Leads Group To Reform 1887 Electoral Count Act by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks during a Senate Health, Education,
Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine the federal response to COVID-19 and new emerging
variants, Jan. 11, 2022 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP, File)
    A group of bipartisan senators led by Maine Republican Susan Collins have continued negotiating changes to the Electoral Count Act of 1887. Recently, the lawmakers met and split into groups to take on pieces of the legislation.
    Collins told reporters that she expected the entire group to come back together over Zoom on Friday.    According to the senator, the act needs to be updated because of what she says are ambiguities which led to the events on January 6.
    “This is not a small matter,” she stated.    “This 1887 law governs the counting and the certification of the presidential vote.    And we saw on January 6th of 2021 how ambiguities in the law were exploited and we need to prevent that from happening again.”
    The 45th president claims that the senators are proving Mike Pence did have the power to overturn the election.     He called Collins whacky, adding that the group’s desperation in reforming the law shows the power Pence had but refused to use.

2/2/2022 No Oil or DOW info.

2/3/2022 France Hopes To Seal Romania 1.2 Billion Euro Warship Deal Quickly
FILE PHOTO: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian attends a joint news conference with Dutch
counterpart Wopke Hoekstra (not pictured) in Paris, France January 28, 2022. Thomas Coex/Pool via REUTERS
    BUCHAREST (Reuters) - France hopes a deal to sell four warships to Romania for 1.2 billion euros ($1.35 billion) will be concluded soon, as the two sides look to ensure security in the Black Sea, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday.
    Defence firm Naval Group won the contract to build four Gowind navy corvettes for Romania as well as renovate two existing frigates in 2019 in partnership with Romanian company Santierul Naval Constanta, but the deal was held up pending legal challenges.
    Romania’s defence ministry said the two companies have until the end of February to decide whether they will go ahead with the deal, adding the price was not negotiable.
    Romania’s navy is the least modernised of its military branches.    The country, a NATO state since 2004 and European Union one since 2007, has ramped up its defence spending in recent years.
    NATO has a multinational land force of up to 4,000 troops in Romania and the country also hosts a U.S. ballistic missile defence station.
($1 = 0.8858 euros)
(Reporting by Luiza Ilie and John Irish; Editing by Alex Richardson)

2/3/2022 Food Prices Rise In Jan., Led By Vegetable Oils, U.N. Agency Says
FILE PHOTO: Customers walk past a fruit stall at a street market,
in Mexico City, Mexico December 17, 2021. REUTERS/Luis Cortes/File Photo
    ROME (Reuters) – World food prices rebounded in January and remained near 10-year highs, led by a jump in the vegetable oils index, the U.N. food agency said on Thursday.
    The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 135.7 points last month against an upwardly revised 134.1 in December. That figure was previously given as 133.7.
    Higher food prices have contributed to a broader surge in inflation as economies recover from the coronavirus crisis and the FAO has warned that the higher costs are putting poorer populations at risk in countries reliant on imports.
    Rome-based FAO also raised its projection of global cereal production in 2021 to 2.793 billion tonnes from a previous estimate of 2.791 billion tonnes, according to its cereal supply and demand outlook.
    FAO said its vegetable oils index rose 4.2% month-on-month in January to reach record levels, shunted higher by reduced export availabilities and other supply-side constraints, especially labour shortages and unfavourable weather.
    “There is a concern the impacts of these constraints will not ease quickly,” Boubaker Ben-Belhassen, head of FAO’s Markets and Trade Division, said in a statement.
    The FAO dairy price index increased 2.4%, its fifth consecutive monthly rise, with the steepest gains registered by skim milk powder and butter.
    The cereal price index rose just 0.1%, with maize posting a 3.8% gain on the month, spurred by worries about persistent drought conditions in South America, FAO said.
    By contrast, world wheat prices fell 3.1% on the back of large harvests in Australia and Argentina. [GRA/]
    Meat prices edged up in January, while sugar was the sole index to post a decrease, shedding 3.1% from the previous month due partly to favourable production prospects in major exporters India and Thailand, FAO said.
    FAO said it raised its projection of global cereal production in 2021 because of larger-than-previously estimated wheat outputs in Argentina and Australia, along with slightly higher production estimates in Russia and Ukraine.
    “For 2022, global wheat plantings are expected to expand, buoyed by mostly conducive weather conditions in the northern hemisphere, although high input costs could deter a larger expansion,” FAO said.
    World cereal utilization in 2021/22 was forecast to rise 1.6% above the 2020/21 level, hitting 2.805 billion tonnes.    FAO’s forecast for world cereal stocks by the close of seasons in 2022 stood at 824 million tonnes, up 2.2 million tonnes since November and only slightly lower than their opening levels.
(Editing by Crispian Balmer)

2/3/2022 “Anyone But Draghi” – How An Italian Presidential Bid Fell Flat by Gavin Jones, Angelo Amante and Giuseppe Fonte
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi holds a news conference after
the government met to discuss stricter coronavirus disease (COVID-19) health pass rules,
in Rome, Italy, November 24, 2021. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo/File Photo
    ROME (Reuters) – Last weekend, for the first time in his gilded career, Mario Draghi missed out on a promotion.
    He was the bookmakers’ hot favourite to become president of Italy.    He had signalled he wanted the prestigious post, with its seven-year term and considerable political clout.
    But over eight rounds of balloting which eventually crowned outgoing President Sergio Mattarella for a second term, Draghi never got more than five votes from the 1,009 parliamentarians and regional delegates who took part in the election.
    In interviews with more than a dozen Italian parliamentarians, many said the main obstacle for the premier was the fact that if he had changed jobs, his government would have automatically fallen, potentially triggering elections a year ahead of>     Most lawmakers were anxious to avoid this because they would have lost their seats and pensions, said unaffiliated deputy Riccardo Magi.
    The prime minister’s office declined to comment on why Draghi had not won election.
    Fausto Raciti, a deputy with the main centre-left Democratic Party (PD), said his group feared an election would yield victory for Giorgia Meloni’s hard-right Brothers of Italy party, which is riding high in the polls.
    “There was the mathematical certainty of early elections and Meloni premier.    Nobody in the PD was willing to run that risk,” Raciti said.
    Meloni, whose party is not in the ruling coalition, had publicly backed Draghi for president, on the condition that elections were held immediately.
    The fear of early elections was not the only problem.
    The parliamentarians interviewed by Reuters said that Draghi’s bid also faced other high hurdles, which the prime minister never managed to overcome.
    Claudio Borghi, a deputy from the rightist League party which is part of Draghi’s coalition, was involved in the fraught negotiations to elect a new head of state, trying to persuade lawmakers to back a candidate from his own conservative camp.
    Some said no, some said they would think about it, but the message I got from most of them was that they would consider voting for anyone but Draghi,” Borghi told Reuters, citing both concern over a snap election and unease over what he said was an “autocratic” approach to government from the former European Central Bank chief.
    “If you want to be the ECB chief you have to negotiate with five or 10 people.    To be president of the republic you have to convince 1,000 lawmakers.    It’s a different skill,” Borghi said.
    Draghi rode to Italy’s rescue a year ago, coming out of retirement to become prime minister after one of Rome’s frequent government collapses.
    His 12 months in government have been absorbed mainly with tackling the COVID-19 emergency and adopting scores of measures pledged to the European Commission in return for some 200 billion euros ($226 billion) of EU pandemic recovery funds.
    Like his predecessor in office, Draghi has often ruled by emergency decree, leaving parliament little scope to discuss and amend legislation.    This sense of exclusion cost him support amongst the very group of people who choose the head of state, several of the lawmakers interviewed by Reuters said.
    Draghi’s management style has also caused friction in the cabinet, a source in the ruling PD said, asking to remain anonymous. He consults widely, but then often decides abruptly, annoying some of his ministers, the source said.    In the end, only a few members of his coalition team tried to fight his corner as the vote progressed.
    Draghi carries rare clout on the international stage and is one of the most recognised figures in Italy.    The idea of letting such a powerful figure take charge of the presidential palace for the next seven years weighed against him in a country where consensus politics predominates, some parliamentarians said.
    “In Italian history, the country’s strongest politician has never been elected president because the system of checks and balances has its own logic,” said Ettore Rosato, a leading light in the centrist Italia Viva party.
    Draghi made his presidential ambitions clear at a news conference on Dec. 22 when he said his government had largely completed its agenda.    “The work can continue regardless of who is there,” he said.
    While he did not explicitly say he wanted to be president, he said he was “at the service of the institutions” — a clear reference to his willingness to take on the role, politicians and commentators agreed.
    Draghi’s move surprised some lawmakers because it broke with traditional Italian etiquette by which no-one is supposed to seek the presidency, but rather only accept it as an honour thrust upon them, said Sandro Ruotolo, a senator with a small leftist group.
    “This ambition was a bit destabilising,” former Prime Minister Mario Monti told La7 TV on Sunday.
    Draghi’s office declined to comment on Monti’s remarks.
    The disapproval grew when, almost as soon as voting started, Draghi began talks with party chiefs in what was widely seen as an attempt to secure their support.
    These talks were confirmed to Reuters by three party sources and were widely reported in Italy’s main newspapers.    Draghi’s office declined to comment.
    “The December news conference was bad enough, but then receiving party leaders while we were voting for the president of the republic seemed to us in parliament like a rupture of the rules,” said Ruotolo.
    In the end, the leader of only one major coalition party, the PD’s Enrico Letta, cautiously backed Draghi, while the three other main government groups – the League, Forza Italia and 5-Star Movement – all publicly disavowed his candidacy.
    Mattarella, 80, had ruled out seeking a second term, but with votes increasing for him with each passing parliamentary ballot, Draghi intervened on Saturday morning and asked if he would accept a fresh mandate.
    Mattarella agreed and later the same day was re-elected with the second highest number of votes in the history of the republic.
(Writing by Gavin Jones, additional reporting by Giselda Vagnoni and Crispian Balmer, editing by Angus MacSwan and Nick Tattersall)

2/3/2022 Oil down $0.01 to $88.30, DOW up 228 to 35,629.

2/4/2022 Inside U.S. Raid On ISIS Leader: Months Of Preparation, Then A Deadly Blast by Phil Stewart and Trevor Hunnicutt
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about a U.S. Special Forces operation in Northern Syria
against ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi, from the Roosevelt Room of the White House
in Washington, U.S., February 3, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. forces rehearsed the helicopter raid over and over, hoping to capture Islamic State’s leader on the third floor of a residential building in a Syrian town on the Turkish border, where he was holed up with his family.
    But before they could reach him, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi detonated a suicide bomb, triggering a large explosion that blew mangled bodies — including his own — out of the building into the streets outside.
    President Joe Biden, who monitored the raid from the White House’s Situation Room, called Quraishi’s suicide a “final act of desperate cowardice.”    It echoed of the self-detonation of a bomb by his predecessor, Islamic State founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, during a U.S. raid in 2019 in Syria.
    For residents in the town of Atmeh, the events were terrifying, as U.S. forces swept in aboard helicopters before trying to evacuate civilians from the cinder-block building, using loudspeakers to tell them to leave.
    “Men, women, and children raise your hands. You are in safety of the American coalition that is surrounding the area.    You will die if you don’t get out,” said one woman recounting the U.S. warnings.
    Marine General Frank McKenzie, who oversees U.S. forces in the region and was providing updates to Biden, said U.S. troops got six civilians, including four children, to leave the first floor of the building before the blast ripped apart the top floor.
    “The explosion, which was more massive than would be expected from a suicide vest, killed everyone on the third floor and in fact ejected multiple people from the building,” McKenzie said, adding that Quraishi, his wife and two children died.
    A second U.S. official later said two of Quraishi’s wives and one child were killed.
    As U.S. troops advanced to the second floor, one of Quraishi’s lieutenants and his wife started firing on the Americans and were killed. One child was found dead there, McKenzie said, and three other children and an infant were brought to safety from the second floor.
    Syrian rescue workers said at least 13 people died, most of them women and children.
    The Pentagon said at least two armed members of a local al Qaeda affiliate were killed by gunfire from a U.S. helicopter after they approached the scene of the raid while U.S. troops were still at the site.
    U.S. officials said Quraishi’s death was another setback for a group that once ruled a self-proclaimed caliphate stretching across territory in Syria and Iraq.    It is now waging insurgent attacks.
    Planning for the operation began in early December, when officials became convinced the Islamic State leader was living in the building, the officials said. Biden received a detailed briefing on options for capturing Quraishi alive on Dec. 20, a senior White House official said.
    One official said the operation was complicated by the fact Quraishi rarely left his residence on the building’s third floor and relied on couriers to interact with the outside world.
    The number of children seen in the area and families believed to be living on the first floor led U.S. officials to try to craft a mission aiming to safeguard civilians, they said.
    That ultimately required putting U.S. forces at risk in a raid, instead of launching a remote strike, the officials said.
    U.S. military procedures to guard against civilian casualties are under scrutiny following a high-profile mistaken drone strike in Kabul during the U.S. evacuation of civilians from Afghanistan that the Pentagon initially hailed a success.
    The Pentagon said it would review all the information from the Atmeh raid to ensure no civilians were harmed by U.S. forces, but stressed all indications so far were that civilian deaths were caused by Islamic State fighters themselves.
    Biden gave final approvals for the mission on Tuesday during an Oval Office meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, who as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the top American military officer, U.S. officials said.
    Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and other administration officials received real-time updates from Austin, Milley and McKenzie as they watched the operation unfold on several screens from the Situation Room, the officials said.
    Biden joined the group in the Situation Room around 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday after finishing a call with French President Emmanuel Macron on an unrelated topic, the White House official said.
    At one point, a helicopter involved in the raid suffered a mechanical failure and had to be destroyed rather than left behind, the Pentagon said.
    Biden said “God bless our troops” once U.S. forces were wheels up after the operation, and kept tabs on them during the night as they flew to safety, officials said.
    Once U.S. forces were in safety, Biden reflected on an airstrike carried out in 2015 – when he was serving as vice president – that killed another ISIS leader and injured Quraishi, costing him a leg, the White House official said.
    Milley told Biden that U.S. forces hit “a visual ID jackpot” when they viewed Quraishi’s body and confirmed his identity using biometric data taken from a fingerprint during the flight back, the official said.    They waited to announce his death until after a DNA test was completed, the official added.
    “He was on our target list from the earliest days of the campaign.    He was Baghdadi’s right-hand man, and … was personally responsible for some of the most vicious ISIS atrocities,” the official.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by John Davidson, Suleiman Al-Khalidi and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Mary Milliken, Will Dunham, Chizu Nomiyama, Daniel Wallis and Michael Perry)

2/4/2022 U.S. Faces Snags In Bid To Speed Up At-Risk Afghan Evacuations by Jonathan Landay and Ted Hesson
FILE PHOTO: Afghan evacuee children participate in social and emotional art initiatives
run by Mural Arts after arriving at the Philadelphia International Airport
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 25, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah Beier
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A lack of flights and the search for a new U.S. reception center are among the hurdles facing the White House as it races to speed up the evacuation of at-risk Afghans from their homeland, according to a senior U.S. official and others familiar with the new plan.
    Other obstacles include difficulties in obtaining passports and an affordable housing shortage in the United States, they said.
    The plan’s goal “is just to make this more enduring and less of an emergency operation,” the senior U.S. official said in describing the revamp, requesting anonymity to discuss internal operations.
    The Biden administration has been under pressure to speed up Operation Allies Welcome from lawmakers, veterans groups and others angry that tens of thousands of Afghans who worked for the U.S. government and others at risk of Taliban retaliation were left behind when the last U.S. troops departed in August after 20 years of war.
    Human rights organizations and the United Nations say the Taliban has stepped up detentions, abductions and killings.    Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sayed Khosti has rejected the accusation of reprisal killings, saying no evidence had been presented.
    “People left behind are getting more and more desperate and we’re going to start seeing more of the consequences of that, whether mass movement of refugees or meeting grim fates in Afghanistan,” said a second senior U.S. official.
    Advocacy groups say Washington should ensure the new plan will not suffer the types of setbacks that have hampered Afghan arrivals.
    “We want to see enough resources applied to these issues so that even if one area fails or falters for a moment, there are options to make sure the pipeline isn’t cut off,” said Shawn VanDiver, a Navy veteran and president of #AfghanEvac, a coalition of advocacy groups.
    President Joe Biden on Tuesday ordered that up to $1.2 billion be made available for the effort, the largest operation of its kind since the Vietnam era.    About 80,000 Afghans have been resettled since August.
    The new plan calls for shifting the processing of Afghan evacuees for admission to the United States from reception centers on U.S. military bases that are being closed to a base in the Qatari capital of Doha.
    But two U.S.-chartered Qatar Airways flights a week from Kabul to Qatar’s al Udeid military base are needed, with the goal of adding more flights, the U.S. official said.
    The flights are the “main challenge,” said the official.
    Differences between Qatar and the Taliban triggered a suspension of regular charters before Christmas.
    “We’re hoping we can get to regular order,” the U.S. official said.
    The Qatar Embassy and foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
    Qatar has told Washington it intends to close the reception center in September ahead of the World Cup, the U.S. official confirmed.    The official said the U.S. was looking for alternatives, including reopening the air base center after the World Cup.
    Once Afghan evacuees are processed for admission, they will be flown to the U.S. and placed with relatives or friends, provided housing by resettlement agencies or sent to a the planned reception center to help them resettle.
    The Biden administration has housed tens of thousands of such evacuees on bases in the United States while their admission and resettlement arrangements were finalized.
    The Pentagon has been closing those reception centers, with the last two expected to shutter this month, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official said, after the roughly 6,500 people there have been processed.
    One of those two centers will remain open until the administration finds a civilian site, but a location has not been selected yet, the senior U.S. official and a congressional source said.
    The State Department plans to process Afghans for refugee status within 30 days beginning in March, two U.S. officials said. That is far faster than typical refugee processing, which can take years.
    To be sure, that creates additional challenges that the second senior U.S. official said would be difficult to surmount.
    Speeding up the operation, the second senior official said, will require an agreement with the Taliban to prioritize passports for evacuees or a deal with Qatar to allow travel without them, more U.S. officials in Doha to process evacuees, and a “higher tolerance of risk to speed up vetting.”
    Afghans entering the United States through the refugee resettlement program will be able to proceed directly to their destinations on U.N.-funded flights.
    The department also will complete the processing in Doha of tens of thousands of Afghans who worked for the U.S. government and have applied for Special Immigration Visas (SIVs), according to the official and two congressional aides.
    The goal is to process and fly to the United States 1,000 refugees and 1,000 SIV recipients a month, the official said.
(Reporting by Jonathan Landay and Ted Hesson in Washington; Editing by Mary Milliken and Gerry Doyle)

2/4/2022 EU Has ‘Robust’ Russia Sanctions Ready If Needed Over Ukraine – Von Der Leyen
FILE PHOTO: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends a meeting of the
College of European Commissioners in Brussels, Belgium, February 2, 2022. Virginia Mayo/Pool via REUTERS
    BERLIN (Reuters) – The European Union has prepared a “robust and comprehensive” package of sanctions to unleash on Russia if it continues its aggression towards Ukraine, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the Handeslblatt and Les Echos newspapers.
    Russia, which seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backs separatists in the east of the country, has amassed some 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border and is demanding security guarantees including a promise NATO will never admit Kyiv.
    “We have prepared a robust and comprehensive package of financial and economic sanctions,” von der Leyen told the papers, adding that these included “capping access to foreign capital” and “export controls, especially on technical goods.”
    The controversial Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline was also part of the sanctions package.    Whether the pipeline can go into operation depends “on Russia’s behaviour,” von der Leyen said.
    “People close to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and oligarchs could of course be hit sensitively,” she added.
    Russia has formulated several options as an excuse to invade Ukraine, including the potential use of a propaganda video showing a staged attack, the United States said on Thursday, as the Kremlin condemned American troop deployments in the region.     The Kremlin accused Washington on Thursday of ignoring its calls to ease the standoff, a day after the United States announced it would send nearly 3,000 extra troops to Poland and Romania.
(Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Michael Perry)

2/4/2022 French President Macron To Meet Putin In Moscow Next Week And Will Also Travel To Ukraine
FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (not pictured)
hold joint news conference in Berlin, Germany January 25, 2022. Kay Nietfeld/Pool via REUTERS
    PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron will meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Feb. 7 and the leader of Ukraine on Feb. 8 to discuss the Ukraine situation, as Western world leaders try and avoid a major conflict with Russia over Ukraine.
    Macron’s office added he would meet Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev a day after his meeting with Putin.
    Macron has said that finding a negotiated path towards de-escalating tensions over Ukraine was a priority, even as the United States has said it was sending 3,000 extra troops to Poland and Romania as Russia amassed troops near Ukraine.
    Macron held separate phone calls with the Russian and Ukrainian leaders on Thursday to try to make progress on the status of the Donbass region as part of efforts to defuse tensions, said Macron’s office in a statement on Thursday.
    That statement had also said Macron had underscored to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky the importance of discussing the conditions to reach strategic balance in Europe which would enable a reduction in tension on the ground and guarantee security on the continent.
    The United States had also said on Thursday that Russia has formulated several options as an excuse to invade Ukraine, including the potential use of a propaganda video showing a staged attack, as the Kremlin condemned American troop deployments in the region.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau, Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

2/4/2022 British PM Johnson Is ‘Taking Charge’ After Lockdown Party Row, Minister Says
FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks outside
10 Downing Street in London, Britain, January 31, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
    LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is taking charge of his Downing Street team by making changes after a row over lockdown parties, Business and Energy Secretary Greg Hands said on Friday.
    Johnson is fighting to shore up his premiership in the face of growing anger over a series of lockdown parties in Downing Street during COVID lockdowns and questions about Johnson’s often chaotic style of leadership.
    Four of Johnson’s closest aides resigned on Thursday while finance minister Rishi Sunak said he would not have made Johnson’s false claim that the opposition Labour Party leader had failed to prosecute one of Britain’s worst sex offenders.
    Asked what was going on in Downing Street, Johnson’s residence and office, Hands told Sky: “Resignations have been made, resignations have been accepted.”
    “This is the prime minister taking charge,” Hands said.    He could not say who would be replacing Johnson’s chief of staff, Dan Rosenfield, who resigned on Thursday.
    Johnson pledged to change his leadership style after a report by senior civil servant Sue Gray into the gatherings held at his Downing Street office and residence condemned “serious failures of leadership.”
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kate Holton)

2/4/2022 U.S. Warns Chinese Firms Against Helping Russia Against Potential Ukraine Sanctions by Simon Lewis and David Brunnstrom
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price gestures during a briefing at the State
Department in Washington, D.C., U.S., February 1, 2022. Susan Walsh/Pool via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States warned Chinese firms on Thursday they would face consequences if they sought to evade any export controls imposed on Moscow in the event of Russia invading Ukraine.
    U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price made the remark after China’s Foreign Ministry said China and Russia had coordinated their positions on Ukraine during a meeting between their foreign ministers in Beijing on Thursday.
    “We have an array of tools that we can deploy if we see foreign companies, including those in China, doing their best to backfill U.S. export control actions, to evade them, to get around them,” Price told a regular news briefing.
    Western countries say any invasion of Ukraine by Russia would bring sanctions on Moscow and Washington has said it is prepared to impose financial sanctions as well as export-control measures.
    White House national security official Peter Harrell said on Wednesday that Washington was working on the export-control measures with allies in Asia, including Japan and South Korea.
    Price said Russia should know that a closer relationship with Beijing would not make up for the consequences imposed in response to an invasion.
    “If Russia thinks that it will be in a position … to mitigate some of those consequences, by a closer relationship with (China), that is not the case.    It will actually make the Russian economy, in many ways, more brittle,” he said.
    “If you deny yourself the ability to transact with the West, to import with the West, from Europe, from the United States, you are going to significantly degrade your productive capacity and your innovative potential.”
    Price said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi had an extended discussion on potential implications of Russian action against Ukraine in a phone call last week.
    Asked to comment on Price’s remarks, Liu Pengyu, the spokesman for China’s Washington embassy, replied: “We have noted relevant reports.    Creating tensions does no good to easing the Ukraine crisis, but only adds more uncertainties to the region and the whole world.    China is firmly opposed to this.”
    China’s foreign ministry earlier said Wang met with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and expressed “understanding and support” for Russia’s position on security regarding Russia’s relationship with the United States and NATO.
    It said both sides coordinated their positions on regional issues of common concern, such as Ukraine, Afghanistan and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
    The U.N. Security Council is due to meet on Friday at the request of the United States and Britain after North Korea’s launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile last weekend.
    The United States has been pushing for more international sanctions on North Korea over a recent spate of missile tests, but last month China and Russia delayed a U.S. bid to impose U.N. sanctions on five North Koreans linked to their country’s weapons programs.
    Lavrov is in Beijing with President Vladimir Putin, who will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday before attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
(Reporting by Simon Lewis, David Brunnstrom, Daphne Psaledakis and Kanishka Singh; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Alistair Bell and Gerry Doyle)

2/4/2022 Oil up $1.95 to $89.86, DOW down 503 to 35,067.

2/5/2022 Analysis-ISIS Raid Gives Biden A Foreign Policy Win As Ukraine, Midterms Loom by Jeff Mason
U.S. President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and other White House
national security staff are seen in a White House handout photo watching the U.S. Special Forces operation
in Northern Syria against ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi from the Situation Room
at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 3, 2022. The White House/Handout via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. raid in Syria that led to the death of Islamic State’s leader is a much-needed national security win for President Joe Biden after the messy withdrawal from Afghanistan while he tries to project an image of strength in a standoff with Russia over Ukraine, analysts said.
    Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi, blew himself up as U.S. forces approached.    The raid on the jihadist leader came after months of planning and was authorized by Biden earlier this week.
    As well as dealing a blow to ISIS, the raid came at a good time for Biden, who is locked in a tense strategic tussle with Russia over Ukraine.    John Bolton, a former national security adviser to President Donald Trump, said the successful operation could show strength to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    “It can’t hurt in the sense that it was a clear win,” he acknowledged.    “A lot of people should take notice of that,” said Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush.
    U.S. prestige suffered from the chaotic pullout from Afghanistan last August after 20 years of war.    Even though his predecessor Trump also favored a withdrawal and agreed a deal with the Taliban, Biden’s poll numbers dived after the messy withdrawal.
    David Gergen, a former aide to Democratic and Republican presidents, said the Afghanistan chaos still hangs over Biden’s foreign policy record despite the success against Islamic State.
    “I think the trouble he faces in the international scene is stickier than it looks.    It’s going to be hard to reverse public opinion,” Gergen said.
    Bolton, one of the main foreign policy hawks in the former Bush administration, said going after Quraishi in northwestern Syria was “the right thing to do.”    But the legacy of Afghanistan still weighs heavily on Biden despite the raid, he said.
    “I don’t think it can repair the damage that was done to his credibility and America’s credibility by withdrawing from Afghanistan.”
    Another stern test for Biden is the standoff with Russia over Ukraine.    The United States and other Western nations say Russia’s massing of some 100,000 troops along the Ukraine border could be a prelude for an invasion.
    “I think the overall question is going to be how this gets resolved with the Russians,” Gergen said.    “He’s going to be tested on toughness. But he’s also going to be tested on competence.”
    At home, Biden is stuck in a months-long slump in the polls, reflecting Americans’ frustration over the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation-plagued economy.    That worries Democrats ahead of November’s midterm elections.
    While the midterms are months away and foreign policy is not a main priority for voters, demonstrating command in the raid on Quraishi and standing up to Putin can be helpful to Biden’s position with U.S. voters, said David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Barack Obama.
    “One of his problems right now is that the world seems out of control – everyday events in people’s lives.     They’re looking for Biden to show command, so any opportunity to do that is valuable,” Axelrod said.    “These things are valuable from a political standpoint.    Shows of strength are valuable.”
    Biden traveled to New York on Thursday to meet with the city’s mayor, Eric Adams, a former police officer, and called for greater investments in local police departments and social services.    Republicans have suggested Biden is weak on crime and tried to tie him to calls by some Democrats to “defund” the police.    Biden has rejected the “defund” push.
    Gergen said the Democratic president seems to be making an effort to project strength.    “I do think Biden is trying to toughen up in the public eye,” he said.
    Biden beat Trump in the 2020 election in part by arguing he would bring competence to the job, and he enjoyed approval ratings close to 60% during his first few months in office.    They fell to the lowest level of his presidency this week according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll, which found 41% of U.S. adults approved of his performance in office and 56% disapproved.
    The combination of the Syria raid and the New York visit could offset some Republican criticism, said Mo Elleithee, executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service.
    “It’s hard to argue someone is weak on fighting terror … after they’ve taken out, you know, one of the world’s top terrorists,” Elleithee said.    “He was able to show results – important results – in national security, and I think you see him appearing like the grown-up in the room on crime.”
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Heather Timmons and Alistair Bell)

2/5/2022 Ottawa Police Vow Crackdown On ‘Dangerous’ Trucker Protest Praised By Trump by David Ljunggren
FILE PHOTO: A person hold a sign as truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease
(COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada February 3, 2022. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle
    OTTAWA (Reuters) -Ottawa police vowed on Friday to crack down on an “increasingly dangerous” protest by hundreds of truckers who have shut down the center of the Canadian capital for eight days to demand an end to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
    The well-organized blockade, which police say has relied partly on funding from sympathizers in the United States, is unprecedented by Canadian standards.    Hundreds more truckers planned to enter the city this weekend, Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly said.
    “This remains … an increasingly volatile and increasingly dangerous demonstration,” he told reporters.
    Protesters in the downtown core “remain highly organized, well-funded, extremely committed to resisting all attempts to end the demonstration safely,” he added.
    Some want an end to a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers while others insist Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau be deposed on the grounds he exceeded his authority by imposing restrictions to tackle the pandemic.
    GoFundMe took down the Freedom Convoy’s donation page on Friday, saying it was in violation of its terms of service.
    “We now have evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration has become an occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity,” the website said in a statement.
    It said donors had until Feb. 19 to request a full refund, then it will “work with organizers to send all remaining funds to credible and established charities verified by GoFundMe.”
    In the western province of Alberta, where truckers have been blocking a major border crossing with the United States in a similar protest, premier Jason Kenney said ministers would meet early next week to start lifting restrictions.
    “We can, and must, get on with our lives, restore our freedoms, and live with joy, not fear,” he wrote on Twitter.
    Sloly, who said he and other top officials had received death threats, likened the protest to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot in Washington when thousands of supporters of former president Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a bid to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory.
    Trump said the truckers were “peacefully protesting the harsh policies of far left lunatic Justin Trudeau who has destroyed Canada with insane Covid mandates.”
    To the increasing fury of residents, Ottawa police have so far largely stood by and watched as some protesters smashed windows, threatened reporters and health care workers and abused racial minorities.
    Sloly said police would put in place a “surge and contain” strategy, including reinforcements of 150 officers deployed downtown, to restore order.
    “The hatred, the violence, the illegal acts that Ottawa residences and businesses have endured over the last week are unacceptable,” he said.
    Blockades are also planned in Quebec City and Toronto, where authorities closed off access to the city centers.
    “We all want to do everything we can to avoid the situation we are seeing in Ottawa,” said Toronto mayor John Tory.
    The protest is dividing the official opposition Conservative Party, which this week ousted its leader amid complaints he had not sufficiently backed the truckers.
    Interim Conservative chief Candice Bergen, in an email leaked to the Globe and Mail, said on Monday “we need to turn this into the PM’s problem” and saw no need to ask the truckers to leave.
    Bergen issued a statement on Friday asking Trudeau to provide a clear plan to end the blockade and urging the truck drivers to remain peaceful.
    The party’s public safety spokesman, Pierre Paul-Hus, tweeted on Friday that the blockade needed to end.    Fellow legislator Dean Allison then tweeted that Paul-Hus was wrong.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Grant McCool and Daniel Wallis)

2/5/2022 Peru’s Castillo To Reshuffle Cabinet Days After PM Comes Under Scrutiny For Abuse
FILE PHOTO: Peru's President Pedro Castillo walks out the Congress after his
swearing-in ceremony, in Lima, Peru July 28, 2021. REUTERS/Angela Ponce/File Photo
    LIMA (Reuters) -Peruvian President Pedro Castillo said on Friday that he will reshuffle his Cabinet, named just three days ago, after his pick for prime minister was widely condemned over allegations that he beat his daughter and late wife.
    Castillo, who is on his third Cabinet in six months in office, did not say if Prime Minister Hector Valer would be leaving or what other specific ministerial changes he would make.
    In a recorded message broadcast on national TV, Castillo said his reshuffled Cabinet would include voices from a diverse group of political sectors.    He did not give a timeline for a new slate of ministers.
    Castillo, a former teacher raised in a poor Andean village, is a member of a Marxist-Leninist party, but in his presidency has moved increasingly to the right.    Valer is a lawmaker who won his seat campaigning for a far-right party before defecting and joining a congressional bloc that is friendly to Castillo.
    His latest Cabinet still needs to be confirmed through a Congressional vote.
    Still, it is likely that Castillo will seek a new Prime Minister as many lawmakers have said they would reject Valer’s appointment.    In his recorded message, Castillo also said that it was important to stand up to violence against women.
    Valer denied on Thursday that he had beat his daughter and late wife, the subject of two police complaints.
    Peru’s prime minister is a powerful figure.    The PM is the chief adviser to the president and also presides and helps appoint the rest of the Cabinet.
(Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Leslie Adler and Grant McCool)

2/5/2022 Oil up $2.25 to $92.44, DOW down 21 to 35,090.

2/6/2022 Thousands Protest Vaccine Mandates In Canada, Further Fraying Nerves by Kyaw Soe Oo and Brian Gable
Protestors continue to clog downtown streets as truckers and supporters continue to protest against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 5, 2022. REUTERS/Blair Gable
    TORONTO/OTTAWA (Reuters) – Thousands of people demonstrated in Canadian cities, including the financial hub Toronto, on Saturday as mostly peaceful but noisy protests against vaccine mandates spread from Ottawa, the capital.
    The “Freedom Convoy” began as a movement against a Canadian vaccine requirement for cross-border truckers, but has turned into a rallying point against public health measures and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.
    “We’re all sick and tired of the mandates, of the intimidation, of living in one big prison,” said Robert, a Toronto protester who did not give his last name.    “We just want to go back to normal without having to take into our veins the poison which they call vaccines.”
    Protesters have shut down downtown Ottawa for the past eight days, with some participants waving Confederate or Nazi flags and some saying they wanted to dissolve Canada’s government.
    “The protesters in Ottawa have made their point.    The entire country heard their point,” said Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, who urged protesters to “go home and engage elected officials.”
    Ottawa police said hate crime charges were laid against four people and they were investigating threats against public figures jointly with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
    The well-organized blockade, which police say has relied partly on funding from sympathizers in the United States, saw protesters bring in portable saunas on Saturday to combat frigid temperatures.
    One man rode through the area on horseback, carrying a Trump flag, social media videos showed.    Former U.S. President Donald Trump has spoken out in support of the truckers against “the harsh policies of far-left lunatic Justin Trudeau who has destroyed Canada with insane COVID mandates.”
    GoFundMe took down the Freedom Convoy’s donation page on Friday, saying it violated the platform’s terms of service due to unlawful activity.    The group had raised about C$10.1 million.
    The website originally said it would give refunds for any requests made by Feb. 19 and would remaining funds to verified charities, but on Saturday GoFundMe said it would refund all donations automatically.
    Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has previously criticized vaccine mandates, called GoFundMe “professional thieves.”    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other Republican state lawmakers vowed to investigate the California-based company over the move.
    About 5,000 people demonstrated in Ottawa, police said, while hundreds more gathered in Toronto, Canada’s biggest city, and Quebec City, coinciding with the city’s annual winter carnival.    Four people were injured in Manitoba after a pick-up truck drove into a crowd late Friday, police said.
    In Toronto, about 500 healthcare workers and supporters rallied downtown in opposition to the trucker convoy, according to a Reuters witness.
    Several Toronto healthcare workers said they received advice from their hospitals to not wear hospital scrubs in public in light of the protest.
    “The notion that we have to somehow skunk around or be afraid of who we are and what were doing, I think, is offensive and regrettable, and I think, a sad commentary on our society,” emergency room doctor Raghu Venugopal told Reuters.
    Some Ottawa residents, who have endured near-incessant honking, smashed windows and harassment for wearing masks themselves, criticized Ottawa Police earlier this week for not doing more to end the blockade.    One resident filed a class-action lawsuit against convoy organizers, seeking up to $10 million in damages and an injunction to end the protests.
    Ottawa police, which warned on Friday of a crackdown on the protest and dedicated more officers, do not have enough resources to end the protests, the city’s police chief said on Saturday.    Trudeau ruled out the use of troops against truckers in the capital earlier this week.
    “This is a city under siege, this is a threat to democracy, this is a nationwide insurrection, this is madness,” Chief Peter Sloly said at a police services’ board meeting.    “We have done our very best.”
(Additional reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny and Chris Helgren; Writing by Amran Abocar; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Leslie Adler)

2/6/2022 Mexico Needs To Speed Processes To Help Migrants, Human Rights Commission Says
Migrants play cards as they gather at Benito Juarez square in
Tapachula, Mexico February 5, 2022. REUTERS/Jose Torres
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) on Saturday asked immigration authorities to speed up the processes that would help nearly 2,000 migrants get documents to regularize their stay in Mexico or let them travel through Mexico without being detained.
    Migrants, including minors, currently survive “in conditions contrary to respect for their dignity” in the southern city of Tapachula, near the Guatemala border, the commission said in a statement.    The National Migration Institute (INM) and the Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) urgently need to provide humanitarian assistance to these migrants, it said.
    “The INM and COMAR have been asked to immediately create working groups in order to speed up the migratory regularization procedures, or the recognition of refugee status,” it said.
    The INM also should guarantee “the free transit through national territory of people once the corresponding identification documents have been issued.”
    On Thursday, hundreds of migrants in Tapachula protested against the slow pace of government visa approvals and threatened to form a fresh caravan that would head to the U.S. border.
    Neither the INM nor COMAR immediately responded to requests for comment.    Last week, the INM said that “there is no need for marches or demonstrations” for migrants to complete their paperwork.
    Amid pressure from Washington, Mexico has tried to stem large waves of migrants traveling in U.S.-bound caravans.
    Tens of thousands of migrants flee their home countries each year in an attempt to reach the United States, but many of them also seek refuge and protection in Mexico.
(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Leslie Adler)

2/6/2022 Ecuador Sees Trade Deal With China At End Of Year, Debt Talks To Begin by Alexandra Valencia
FILE PHOTO: Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso speaks at the inauguration of an extended marine reserve
that will encompass 198,000 square kilometers (76,448 square miles), aboard a research vessel off
Santa Cruz Island, in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador January 14, 2022. REUTERS/Santiago Arcos
    QUITO (Reuters) – Ecuador expects to pull together a trade deal with China at the end of this year and will begin formal debt re-negotiations with the Asian country, Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso said on Saturday, after a Beijing visit with his counterpart Xi Jinping.
    China became Ecuador’s top lender over the last decade, with millions of dollars in long-term credit tied to the handover of crude oil, large investments in hydro-electric and mining projects and other loans.
    “In China we had a productive meeting with President Xi Jinping,” Lasso posted on Twitter.    “We achieved great results in commercial openings, cooperation in health and debt re-negotiation.”
    At the meeting the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding meant to pave the way for a trade deal at the end of the year, which would benefit Ecuadorean exports of shrimp, bananas, cacao, other fruit and minerals.
    China said on Sunday the two countries have agreed to open negotiations for a free-trade pact.    The commerce ministry, in a statement on its website, offered no details on the planned talks.
    At the meeting on the sidelines of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, Xi said China and Ecuador should use negotiations on the free trade agreement as an opportunity to deepen practical cooperation between the two countries, China’s Xinhua news agency said.
    Xi was quoted as expressing hope that Ecuador would continue to provide a fair business environment for Chinese companies to invest and operate in Ecuador, while saying China would continue to help Ecuador fight COVID-19.
    Lasso, who took office in May, has said more trade and foreign investment are key to stimulating the South American country’s COVID-battered and liquidity-poor economy.
    “It would increase the market by nearly $1 billion more in export opportunities,” commerce minister Julio Jose Prado said during a virtual press conference.    “And that will mean we could almost be doubling the exports we make to China in various products.”
    The countries have agreed their finance ministries will conduct initial talks on debt re-negotiation, as Ecuador seeks to improve its payment periods and interest rates.
    Ecuador is also seeking to disconnect the handover of crude from outstanding debts with Chinese banks worth some $2.08 billion, according to foreign minister Juan Carlos Holguin, which would free up some $400 million per year in potential spending.
    China will donate 2.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for inoculation of 3- to 5-year-olds, the Ecuadorean government added.
(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Additional reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu and Ella Cao in Beijing; Editing by Andrea Ricci and William Mallard)

2/6/2022 U.S. Republicans Vow To Probe GoFundMe Decision Halting Canada Trucker Donations
FILE PHOTO: A protester stands near trucks across from Parliament Hill as truckers
and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates,
in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 4, 2022. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg
    (Reuters) -Some U.S. Republicans on Saturday vowed to investigate GoFundMe’s decision to take down a page accepting donations in support of protesting truckdrivers in Canada, although GoFundMe early Saturday already said it would simply refund all donations.
    The Freedom Convoy 2022 began as a movement against a Canadian vaccine requirement for cross-border truckers, but has turned into a rallying point against public health measures in Canada.    It has also gained increasing support among U.S. Republicans, including former President Donald Trump.
    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said on Saturday it was fraud for GoFundMe to “commandeer” $9 million in donations sent to the Freedom Convoy in support of the truckdrivers and said he would work with his state’s attorney general, Ashley Moody, to investigate.    “(T)hese donors should be given a refund.”
    But hours before DeSantis posted his statement on Twitter, GoFundMe said in a tweet that it had revised its original plan on how to handle funds already donated to support the truckdriver protest, saying that all donations would be refunded.
    “This refund will happen automatically — you do not need to submit a request.    Donors can expect to see refunds within 7-10 business days,” GoFundMe said in its tweet.
    GoFundMe took down the Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser page on Friday, saying it violated its terms of service.    At the time it said donors would have two weeks to request a refund, with any remaining funds distributed to “credible and established charities.”
    West Virginia and Louisiana attorneys general were among those who called on constituents to let them know if they had been a donor.
    “My office will be looking into whether or not #GoFundMe violated our state law.    If you are a Louisiana donor to the #FreedomConvoy, please contact my #ConsumerProtection Section!” Jeff Landry, attorney general in Louisiana, said on Twitter on Saturday.
    GoFundMe did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.
    Protesters have shut down downtown Ottawa, the Canadian capital, for eight days now, with some participants waving Confederate or Nazi flags and some saying they wanted to dissolve Canada’s government.    To the increasing fury of residents, Ottawa police have largely stood by and watched as some protesters smashed windows, threatened reporters and health-care workers, and abused racial minorities.
    Toronto, Canada’s largest city, and other cities braced for disruptions on Saturday as protests spread from Ottawa, raising fears of clashes with counter-protesters.
    Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of the former president, on Twitter late Friday called for all Republican attorneys general to look into GoFundMe’s move.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Amran Abocar; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Leslie Adler)

2/6/2022 No Oil or DOW info.

2/7/2022 Blinken With Pacific Trip Aims To Reaffirm U.S. Focus On Asia by Humeyra Pamuk and David Brunnstrom
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a briefing at the State
Department in Washington, U.S., January 26, 2022. Brendan Smialowski/Pool via REUTERS/
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will aim with a trip to the Pacific this week to remind the world that Washington’s strategic long-term focus remains with the Asia-Pacific region despite an escalating crisis with Russia over Ukraine.
    Blinken is due to depart on Monday for Australia, Fiji and Hawaii for meetings with key allies and to reaffirm a commitment to push back against what the United States calls China’s growing economic and military “coercion.”
    Highlights of the week will be a meeting of the informal grouping of Australia, India, Japan and the United States known as the Quad, work to advance diplomatic efforts regarding North Korea and discussions on the concerns over Pacific Islands where U.S. officials believe China wants to establish bases.
    Blinken’s trip comes days after China and Russia declared a “no limits” strategic partnership at the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics.    The United States is engaged in a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics.
    It marked the most detailed and assertive statement by China and Russia to work together – and against the United States – to build a new international order based on their own interpretations of human rights and democracy.
    Daniel Kritenbrink, the State Department’s top diplomat for East Asia, chided Chinese President Xi Jinping during a briefing with journalists ahead of Blinken’s trip, saying Xi’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday should have been an opportunity to encourage de-escalation of tensions over Ukraine.
    China and Russia pledged mutual protection of core interests – an apparent reference to Russia and Ukraine as well as Taiwan, a self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own.    Their joint statement denounced U.S. moves to counter China through AUKUS, a pact under which the United States and Britain will provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.
    Charles Edel, an expert on Asia and Australia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, noted that Blinken is traveling to Australia despite the standoff over Ukraine with the Russians and the intense diplomacy among NATO member states.
    “His trip underscores just how important – and how challenging – it is for Washington to maintain focus on the Indo-Pacific,” Edel said.
    U.S.-Chinese ties are at their lowest point in decades as the world’s top two economies disagree over numerous issues including Hong Kong, China’s treatment of ethnic Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region and the South China Sea.    Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine, the most serious threat of a major conflict in Europe since the Cold War’s end, only complicates matters.
    During the planned Quad meeting in Melbourne, the four countries are expected to discuss how to further their goals including climate policy and providing COVID-19 vaccines to Southeast Asia ahead of an expected May summit in Japan that President Joe Biden plans to attend.
    In meetings with Fiji’s prime minister and Pacific Island leaders, climate policy and Pacific regional security and stability are expected to be front and center. Chinese ambitions in the region also will likely come up.
    “The speed and extent of China’s outreach to the Pacific Islands has served as a wakeup call,” said Daniel Russel, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia during former President Barack Obama’s administration, who is now with the Asia Society Policy Institute think tank.
    Lawmakers from the Pacific Island republic of Kiribati said last year that China has drawn up plans to upgrade an airstrip on one its remote islands about 1,860 miles (3,000 km) from Hawaii.    This would offer China a foothold deep in territory firmly aligned with the United States and its allies since World War Two.
    The United States has said the AUKUS pact and expanding Quad cooperation show its Indo-Pacific commitment.
    But analysts have said that former President Donald Trump’s decision to quit a trade framework now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) continues to undercut U.S. engagement with a region where many countries count China as their main trading partner.
    “The timing and substance of the QUAD ministerial is driven by the common agenda of the four countries – namely to out-compete China by offering the region real and better alternatives,” Russel said.
    Biden told Asian leaders in October that the United States would launch talks a new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, but few details have emerged and his administration has been reluctant to offer the increased market access Asian countries desire, seeing this as threatening American jobs.
    In Hawaii, Blinken will host Japanese and South Korean counterparts.    Their discussions are expected to center on North Korea, which has conducted a slew of missile launches this year, raising fears that it may return to testing intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs for the first time since 2017.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Will Dunham)

2/7/2022 Ex-President Heads Into Costa Rica Run-Off, Ex-Finance Minister Likely Awaits by Alvaro Murillo
Presidential candidate Jose Maria Figueres of the National Liberation Party (PLN) delivers speech,
after he led a preliminary partial tally of votes in presidential election as showed by
the electoral tribunal, in San Jose, Costa Rica, February 6, 2022. REUTERS/Mayela Lopez
    SAN JOSE (Reuters) - Former president Jose Maria Figueres comfortably led the preliminary vote count in Sunday’s Costa Rican presidential election, with former finance minister Rodrigo Chaves poised to defy expectations to face him in a second-round run-off.
    Figueres was seen winning 27.3% of the vote based on returns from nearly three-quarters of polling stations, with economist Chaves pulling past evangelical Christian Fabricio Alvarado to carve out an advantage in second with 16.6% of the tally.
    Chaves, a former World Bank official who has forged an anti-establishment reputation since running the finance ministry for about half a year under outgoing Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado, had been running fourth in recent opinion polls.
    “Chaves has a liberal economic position, is socially conservative, pro-law and order and against the political class,” said Rotsay Rosales, a political scientist and head of the National Policy Observatory of the University of Costa Rica.
    Fabricio Alvarado of the neo-Pentecostal New Republic Party and runner-up in the Central American country’s 2018 election, was running third, garnering support of 15.2%.
    To win the first round outright, a candidate had to secure more than 40% of votes.    The two leading contenders will face each other in a run-off on April 3.    A total of 25 candidates were competing in the first round.
    Chaves, who in the campaign rejected accusations he had been censured for sexual harassment earlier in his career, urged Figueres to pursue a dignified discourse in the run-off.
    “I have been attacked by few, but very viciously.    If I made a mistake, I apologize,” he told supporters.
    Figueres, who governed from 1994 to 1998 under the centrist National Liberation Party, had been a slight favorite heading into the first round, according to opinion polls.
    All 57 seats of the national legislative assembly are also up for grabs.    A divided legislature is likely, with local media forecasting Figueres’ National Liberation Party (PLN) would win the most seats with 19, but well short of a majority.
    Costa Ricans have said they want their next leader to tackle corruption and high unemployment rates during a four-year term.
    The electoral tribunal said voting went smoothly across the country and reported a preliminary turnout of about 60%.
    In the capital, San Jose, Enrique Romero, a 52-year-old construction worker, said he would vote for Figueres.
    “I want things to improve, that the government functions better,” Romero said.    “The situation is critical.    It is not about going back to the past, but about moving forward and learning from experience.”
    President Carlos Alvarado, a center-left politician, cannot seek a second consecutive term.
    About a third of the voters in the Central American nation of about 5 million people had not made up their minds on whom to back ahead of the election, according to opinion polls.
    Victor Morales, a 56-year-old who sells flags, was among those who were undecided.
    “My business has dropped due to the bad governments we have had,” Morales said.
    “Before, people used to rally to support political parties.”
    The ruling center-left Citizen Action (PAC) party, which has been in power for two terms, received less than 1% of support in the Center for Research and Political Studies poll.
    The national assembly, among other responsibilities, is due to negotiate important financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
(Reporting by Alvaro Murillo in San Jose; Additional reporting by Diego Ore; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Chris Reese, Clarence Fernandez, Gerry Doyle and Michael Perry)

2/7/2022 Sen. Barrasso Speaks Out On Potential Russian Invasion Of Ukraine by OAN Newsroom
A U.S. Air Force plane landing at the Rzeszow-Jasionka airport in southeastern Poland on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022,
bringing from Fort Bragg troops and equipment of the 82nd Airborne Division. Additional U.S. troops are arriving
in Poland after President Joe Biden ordered the deployment of 1,700 soldiers here amid fears of a Russian invasion
of Ukraine. Some 4,000 U.S. troops have been stationed in Poland since 2017. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
    Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said the U.S. needs to prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from taking Ukraine amid fears of an imminent Russian invasion of the sovereign democracy.
    In an interview Sunday, The Wyoming lawmaker stressed the U.S. needs to deter Putin by emphasizing invading Ukraine would be very painful for the Kremlin.    Barrasso also called Putin a “predator” and claimed the Russian leader wants to put the old Soviet Union back together.
    “Putin is a predator, he is going to see what it costs him and what he gets,” stated the Republican senator.    “If we put biting sanctions in place right now before an attack as well as make sure Ukraine has the first class weapons to defend themselves, that will make Putin think twice.”
    The Republican senator warned if the U.S. does not take action to deter Russia other adversaries like China and Iran will be emboldened.    Meanwhile, dozens of U.S. troops are in Southeastern Poland amid Russia’s military build-up near Ukraine.
    Multiple Humvees and U.S. military planes arrived with equipment in Poland Sunday about 60-miles from Ukraine’s border.    This came after Biden ordered the deployment of nearly 3,000 U.S. troops to Eastern Europe to reassure NATO allies.
    Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine, but Moscow claims it’s not planning an invasion.    However, Russian officials said they could take unspecified military action if their demands aren’t met, including a promise NATO will never admit Kyiv.
    Biden has vowed to impose sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine.

2/7/2022 Mexico Tears Down Migrant Camp At U.S. Border by OAN Newsroom
FILE – A makeshift migrant camp stands near El Chaparral pedestrian border bridge in Tijuana, Mexico, Thursday,
July 1, 2021. About a hundred members of the police, National Guard and army on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022,
evicted almost 400 migrants, mainly Central Americans and Mexicans, from the makeshift camp they had been staying
in for almost a year in Tijuana at the U.S. border crossing. (AP Photo/Emilio Espejel, File)
    Mexican authorities demolished an encampment of migrants at the U.S. border in Tijuana. On Sunday, hundreds of Mexican National Guards accompanied immigration officials and bulldozers to the camp site to evict the squatters.
    Officials said every migrant can get a humanitarian visa and live and work in Mexico, but they are not allowed to sit at the U.S. border in hopes of crossing.    They added, the camp was impeding pedestrian traffic across the border into San Diego.
    “Every one of the 383 people who are here (at the camp) will do well in one of our shelters: 86 families, 33 men, three people from the LGBT community,” stated Tijuana Mayor Monsterrat Caballero.    “They are all to be transported securely and it was best to do this first thing in the morning.”
    Migrants at the former camp acknowledged they were waiting on the Biden administration to grant them entry into the U.S.    They are now being relocated into a shelter in Mexico.

2/7/2022 House Lawmakers Expected To Take Up Continuing Resolution This Week To Keep Govt. Funded After Feb. 18 Deadline by OAN Newsroom
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD, after leaving the House Chamber in Washington, DC
on October 12, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
    The House is expected to take up a stopgap bill this week to prevent a government shutdown.    Leadership in both chambers of Congress signaled they plan to vote on the continuing resolution to keep the government funded ahead of the February 18 deadline.
    It’s unclear how long the bill will keep the government funded for since House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said negotiations are still ongoing.
    “Well, we’re going to get something done, it’ll probably be a short term CR and it’ll be coming this week to give us a little more time,” explained the Democrat lawmaker.    “Negotiations are very vigorous and I think we’re going to get agreement, both on the top line of how much spending is gonna be and how it will be spent.    But it’s not there yet.”
    It’s been reported the temporary spending bill will only extend government funding through March 11 in order for appropriators to draft up final fiscal 2022 spending bills.    Lawmakers could take up the continuing resolution as soon as Tuesday.

2/7/2022 Sen. Rubio: Jan. 6 Committee A Partisan Scam To Smear Conservatives by OAN Newsroom
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations to examine
U.S.-Russia policy with testimony from Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs,
on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
    Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the January 6 Committee is an illegitimate Democrat attempt to discredit conservatives.    In an interview Sunday, the Florida lawmaker said if any crimes were committed in the capitol on January 6 they should be investigated and prosecuted by prosecutors, not a partisan panel.
    “This commission is a partisan scam,” he stated.    “The purpose of that commission is to try to embarrass and smear and harass as many Republicans as they can get their hands on.”
    Rubio pointed out that the Democrat panel is going after people who were not even on Capitol Hill on that day.    He added, there’s no need for a congressional committee to harass Americans for their political views.
    “This commission is nothing but a partisan tool designed to go out and smear,” said the Republican.    “And attack and get their hands on as many people as they can, including people that weren’t in Washington on January 6th.    I think that commission is a scam.    I think it’s a complete partisan scam.”
    Meanwhile, dozens of January 6 protesters are still held in the D.C. jail where attorneys say they face inhumane conditions.

2/7/2022 Dr. Gottlieb: States To Start Lifting School Mask Mandates by OAN Newsroom
Signs in a hallway reminds students to wear masks and distance themselves at
Fox Trail Elementary School, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, in Davie, Fla. Broward County, Florida
schools began a phased reopening for face-to-face eLearning Friday. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
    Dr. Scott Gottlieb said he expects governors across the U.S. to start lifting mask mandates in schools. In a Sunday interview, the former FDA commissioner and now Pfizer board member said mask mandates may be lifted in districts with low COVID infection rates.
    Gottlieb then claimed many children have been deprived of normal schooling for two-years now and education must get back to normal.    He added, lifting mask mandates poses some “risk” despite some studies suggesting only very specific face masks work.
    “I think we’re two-weeks out, we’ve seen prevalence come down,” said the doctor.    “Connecticut — their mask mandate expires on February 15th.    I would expect that’s not going to be renewed and schools in the state of Connecticut will very quickly lift mask requirements for students.    I think you’re going to see the same thing in New York, New Jersey, other states where Omicron has come down where vaccination rates are especially high.”
    Gottlieb also appeared to endorse mass vaccination of children while asserting that high vaccine rates may help contain the spread of coronavirus.

2/7/2022 Oil down $0.56 to $91.43, DOW up 1.39 to 35,091.

2/8/2022 New US report could bolster unionization by Josh Boak, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A Biden administration task force on organized labor on Monday issued a set of recommendations that could make it easier for federal workers and contractors to unionize.
    The report submitted to President Joe Biden included 70 distinct policy proposals, according to a release by the White House.    Biden created the task force chaired by Vice President Kamala Harris, with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh as vice chair, through an executive order last April.
    'We had the ability for people to come in and give testimony on what they want to see in strengthening workers’ rights,' Walsh said.    'This is a very strong, worker-centered document.'     The report argues that a decadeslong drop in union membership has coincided with a rising share of income going to the top 10% of earners.    It further says that most Americans have a favorable impression of unions and would join one if given the option in a vote.    Yet the Labor Department reported last month that only 10.3% of workers belonged to a union in 2021, down from 20.1% in 1983.
    The report has stirred a backlash from many business groups that say union strikes and work stoppages could worsen economic challenges such as the supply chain squeeze and high inflation.
    'Today’s report from the White House task force is nothing more than pro-union propaganda and exemplifies how entrenched pro-union allies are in this administration,' said Kristen Swearingen, chair of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which is composed of more than 500 business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Trucking Association.
    Many of the proposals to increase unionization are specific directions focused on the federal government as an employer.    The Interior Department is among four agencies that will now let union organizers talk with employees on federal property, a rule that applies to private-sector employees on contract with the government.
    The departments of Transportation and Commerce will set preferences and guidelines for federal grants to foster union jobs.
The report on organized labor submitted to President Joe Biden by a task force
he created included 70 distinct policy proposals. Patrick Semansky/AP

2/8/2022 U.S. Republican Senators Vow To Thwart Any Iran Deal If Biden Skips Congressional Review by Andrea Shalal
FILE PHOTO: Chess pieces are seen in front of displayed Iran's and U.S. flags
in this illustration taken January 25, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A group of 33 Republican senators warned U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday that they would work to thwart implementation of any new Iran nuclear agreement if his government did not allow Congress to review and vote on its terms.
    Led by Senator Ted Cruz, a long-time opponent of the 2015 nuclear deal, the senators told Biden in a letter dated Monday that they would use “the full range of options and leverage available” to ensure that his government adhered to U.S. laws governing any new accord with Iran.
    Indirect talks in Vienna between Iran and the United States on reviving the 2015 agreement are due to resume on Tuesday.    Talk of a possible agreement has driven oil prices lower, with markets anticipating that the possible removal of sanctions on Iranian oil sales could boost global supplies.
    The Biden administration has been trying to revive the deal, which lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear activities, a deal from which former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States in 2018.
    Iran later breached many of the deal’s nuclear restrictions and kept pushing well beyond them.
    Cruz and other senior Republican senators told Biden that implementation of any new deal would be “severely, if not terminally hampered” if he did not meet statutory obligations aimed at ensuring congressional oversight over revisions or changes to the 2015 Iran nuclear accord.
    They provided no details about their plans, but Republicans have used various tactics to slow down other legislation or put holds on Biden’s nominees, including many for ambassador posts.
    Democrats control the 50-50 Senate only by virtue of a tie-breaking vote that can be cast by Vice President Kamala Harris, but they could lose control of the Senate and the House of Representatives in mid-term elections later this year.
    The senators said any nuclear agreement with Iran was of “such grativity for U.S. national security” that it would by definition be a treaty requiring the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate, they argued.
    Any deal that fell short of Senate-ratified treaty would “likely be torn up in the early days of the next presidential administration,” they added, anticipating a Republican victory in the 2024 presidential race.
    In addition, they noted that a 2015 law passed before completion of the initial nuclear deal requires that any new “agreement” related to Iran’s nuclear program to be transmitted to Congress for a 60-day review period during which Congress could pass a joint resolution of disapproval that would essentially prevent the deal from going into effect.
    It said those mandates would be triggered by Iran’s progress toward developing a nuclear weapon over the past year, which would require new oversight measures.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Michael Perry)

2/8/2022 Biden Pledges End To Nord Stream 2 If Russia Invades Ukraine by Andrea Shalal, Andreas Rinke and Jeff Mason
FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz walks in the lower house of parliament
Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, January 26, 2022. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline would be halted if Russia invades Ukraine and stressed unity with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as the West rallies to avert a war in Europe.
    At a White House press conference with the new German leader, Biden, a longtime opponent of the decade-old pipeline project to Germany from Russia, said Russian forces crossing into Ukraine would trigger a shutdown.
    “If Russia invades, that means tanks or troops crossing the … border of Ukraine again, then there will be … no longer a Nord Stream 2.    We, we will bring an end to it,” Biden said.    Asked how, given the project is in German control, Biden said: “I promise you, we’ll be able to do it.”
    Scholz said the United States and Germany had the same approach to Ukraine, to Russia and to sanctions, but did not directly confirm the Nord Stream 2 plans or mention the pipeline publicly by name over the course of his day-long visit.
    the United States and Germany are on the same page over the $11 billion project has become a crucial question as the two major democracies lead NATO allies in pushback against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    Russia has amassed some 100,000 troops near the Ukraine border.    It denies it is planning an invasion.    U.S. officials say an attack could occur within days or weeks.
    Scholz, under fire at home and abroad for what has been seen as insufficient leadership in the crisis, told reporters Russia would pay a very high price if it invaded Ukraine and said Germany and the United States had the same approach.
    “We will be united.    We will act together.    And we will take all the necessary steps,” Scholz said in English.
    Even before the pipeline starts flowing, Germany uses Russian gas to cover half its needs.    It delayed approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline until at least the second half of 2022, but has refused to cancel the nearly completed project.
    Biden and Scholz emphasized that they preferred diplomacy as a solution to the Ukraine conflict.
    Asked if Russia still had an “off ramp” from any crisis, Biden said yes.
    Scholz, whose popularity has plunged 17 percentage points in recent weeks as tensions ratcheted up with Moscow, is due to visit both Ukraine and Russia next week, after meetings this week with Biden, European Union officials and the heads of Baltic states.
    The Biden-Scholz relationship could be pivotal at a time when French President Emmanuel Macron has yet to declare if he will run in an election in three months, and while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is engulfed in a domestic crisis.
    On Monday, Macron met with Putin and told the Russian leader he seeks to avoid war and build trust.
    Scholz also met with key lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on Monday evening, including top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer and Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell.
    Biden said he had no doubts about Germany’s reliability as a partner and said Scholz had the United States’ complete trust.    “There is no doubt about Germany’s partnership with the United States.    None,” Biden said.
    Biden and U.S. officials emphasized that Germany was the second largest donor of non-military assistance to Kyiv after the United States, and that they were planning sanctions against Russia together.
    Details of the sanctions package are still being finalized, but banning Russia from the SWIFT financial transaction system remains an option, a U.S. official said.
    Steven Sokol, president of the American Council on Germany, said Scholz needed to clarify Germany’s position on Nord Stream 2 and show more “creativity” in providing assistance to Ukraine, short of sending in weapons.
    “Germany has to understand that if it wants to be more of a player on the world stage and carry more responsibility, then with that comes taking more action,” Sokol said.    “In order to be a leader, Germany has to do more.”
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Jeff Mason and Andreas Rinke; additional reporting by Alexandra Alper, Steve Holland and Sarah Marsh; Editing by Heather Timmons, Grant McCool and Michael Perry)

2/8/2022 Neil Young Takes Aim At Spotify CEO, Big Banks
FILE PHOTO: A smartphone and a headset are seen in front of a screen projection of
Spotify logo, in this picture illustration taken April 1, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
    (Reuters) – Singer-songwriter Neil Young has asked employees of Spotify Technology SA to quit their jobs while urging people to withdraw their money from big American banks, in protests over coronavirus misinformation and climate change.
    Young, in a statement on his website, criticized the music streaming platform’s chief executive officer, Daniel Ek, saying he was the main problem, in the wake of criticism of U.S. podcaster Joe Rogan, who has courted controversy with his views on COVID-19 vaccines and his use of racial slurs.
    Spotify hosts the top-rated podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast.
    “In our communication age, misinformation is the problem.    Ditch the misinformers,” Young said in the statement.
    The rock star pulled his content from the streaming platform last month after objecting to his music being played on the same platform as Rogan’s podcast, over what Young said was misleading information on vaccines.
    Several prominent figures including singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, guitarist Nils Lofgren and best-selling U.S. professor and author Brene Brown followed suit.
    Young also urged people to move their money out of multinational banks JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc, Bank of America Corp and Wells Fargo & Co, calling them “damage causers” for their funding of fossil fuels.
    Rogan has apologized for both the racial slurs and the controversy over COVID vaccines.
    Young’s comments come a day after Ek told his staff that while he condemned the slurs used by Rogan, the company would not be silencing him.
    Addressing employees of the music platform, Young said: “I say Daniel Ek is your big problem – not Joe Rogan.    Get out of that place before it eats up your soul.”
    Young also urged fellow musicians and artists to take their output elsewhere.
    The platform saw more than $2 billion wiped off its market value last week amid the uproar over COVID misinformation.
    The company has said it would add a “content advisory” to any episode that includes discussion of the coronavirus.
(Reporting by Mrinmay Dey and Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel)

2/8/2022 Oil down $2.18 to $89.48, DOW up 372 to 35,462.

2/9/2022 Exclusive-Canadians See Danger At Home From U.S. Political Strife – Poll by Steve Scherer
Vehicles clog downtown streets as truckers and supporters continue to protest against the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Blair Gable
    OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadians say they are concerned political strife in the United States will undermine security and economic growth at home, according to a new poll, as an anti-vaccine mandate protest praised by former U.S. President Donald Trump gripped the capital and affected the border.
    The anxiety captured in the Angus Reid Institute survey provides a backdrop to protests across the country, at the international border, and especially in Ottawa, the capital, where police say Americans have provided a “significant” amount of money and organizational support.
    The Ottawa protest, now in its 13th day, has been marred by the appearance of hateful symbols, like the Confederate flag, associated with the aggressive populism embraced by Trump supporters and some protesters say their goal is not only to roll back vaccine mandates, but also to overthrow the government.
    “The success or failure of the United States will have a profound impact on Canada,” said Bruce Heyman, former American ambassador to Canada from 2014-2017.    “Part of the more extreme nature of our politics over the last few years has now moved to occupy some part of Canada today.”
    In the poll, 78% of Canadians said they were worried America’s democratic discord will affect their country’s economy and security.    The survey of 1,620 Canadians was conducted between Jan. 27 and Jan. 31, the days in which the Ottawa protest began.
    Two-thirds of Canada’s 38 million people live within 100 km (62 miles) of the U.S. border, and the two countries are each other’s top trading partners.
    The trade relationship with the United States is of existential importance to Canada, with 75% of all exports going to the southern neighbor.    Half of Canada’s imports come from the United States, including 60% of all imported fresh vegetables.
    The Jan. 6 anniversary of the storming of Capitol Hill in Washington last year led to a series of articles in Canadian newspapers that sounded an alarm about the resiliency of American democracy in coming years, and in particular after the 2024 election.
    Until recently, politics in Canada has been less polarized than in the United States.    One example is the adoption of vaccines with nearly 80% of Canadians having had two shots of a COVID-19 vaccine in contrast to 64% in the United States.
    However, last week’s ouster of Conservative opposition leader Erin O’Toole in part for failing to embrace the protest suggests the political landscape is shifting.
    “Canadians have generally looked to the United States and felt like, ‘Whatever is going on there, it’s not as bad in Canada,'” said Shachi Kurl, Angus Reid president.
    “We like to think of ourselves as… a country of circumspection and compromise and friendliness, yet two in five people don’t feel that way anymore,” she said.    Some 37% of Canadians say there is no room for political compromise in their country, the poll shows.
    Ottawa police said on Tuesday they had worked with Ohio police to track down and arrest a man there for calling in fake threats “designed to deceive and distract our emergency resources,” deputy police chief Steve Bell told reporters.
    On Monday, Canada’s federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the government would be “very vigilant about external forces, about foreign interference.”
    Trump last weekend spoke out in support of the truckers and called Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a “far-left lunatic.”     According to Angus Reid poll, 68% of Canadians believe U.S. democracy cannot survive another Trump presidency, and 47% said the United States is on its way to becoming an authoritarian state.
    “The United States used to be a beacon of democracy, and now it’s exporting right-wing sedition to other democratic countries,” said Roland Paris, Trudeau’s former foreign policy adviser and professor of international affairs at University of Ottawa.
    “The worse things get in the United States, the more dangerous it will be for Canada,” Paris said, calling the Ottawa protest a “wake-up call.”
    Gerry Butts, Vice Chairman of Eurasia Group and formerly Trudeau’s top advisor, says “Canadians are astute observers of what’s happening in the United States, and they’re rightly anxious about it.”
    “In the long term, Canada will be like everyone else… badly damaged if the United States becomes a democracy in name only,” he said.
($1 = 1.2661 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Alistair Bell)

2/9/2022 ‘No To The IMF’: Thousands Protest In Argentina Against Debt Deal by Miguel Lo Bianco and Horacio Soria
Demonstrators take part in a protest against the government's agreement with the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), in Buenos Aires, Argentina February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Mariana Nedelcu
    BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Thousands of Argentines marched through the streets of Buenos Aires on Tuesday to protest against a likely deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to revamp more than $40 billion of debt the country cannot pay back.
    The protesters paraded through the capital with banners saying “no to paying the IMF” and “no to an IMF deal,” a sign of rising tension in the South American nation over the tentative agreement struck late last month.
    Argentina and the IMF announced a breakthrough in talks in late January to revamp a failed 2018 loan, which would see debt payments pushed back but involve pledges to meet certain economic targets agreed with the lender.
    That agreement still needs details ironed out and approval from both Argentina’s Congress and the IMF board.
    “No to the government’s deal with the IMF,” said Celeste Fierro, a protest leader, wearing a T-shirt reading “scams are not paid.”
    “They want us to pay with more (fiscal) adjustments, with more precariousness and taking more out of us, that is why we cannot allow the submission of our people to the designs of the IMF.”
    IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said last week that while an agreement had been reached in principle with Argentina on a new standby loan, “hard work” still lay ahead.
    In Argentina, splits have appeared in the ruling Peronist coalition over the deal, with one prominent lawmaker stepping down from his position in Congress in opposition to it.
    Juan Carlos Giordano, a representative for a leftist group in the march, said that the debt deal was akin to making working class people foot the bill and that the funds should be used to pull people out of poverty.
    “The aim is to defend wages, defend work so that the money goes to combat social ills,” he said, blaming the previous government of conservative Mauricio Macri for taking on the IMF debt.
    “We are marking a path.    The path of no submission, no to resignation, and no to the IMF.”
(Reporting by Miguel Lo Bianco and Horacio Soria; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Robert Birsel)

2/9/2022 Oil up $0.24 to $89.96, DOW up 306 to 35,769.

2/10/2022 With Blinken In Pacific, Marshall Islands Says Talks On U.S. Military Access ‘Stalled’ by David Brunnstrom and Michael Martina
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a briefing at the State
Department in Washington, U.S., January 26, 2022. Brendan Smialowski/Pool via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Even as America’s top diplomat visits the Pacific region seeking to counter China’s growing power and influence, the Washington ambassador of the tiny Marshall Islands said talks aimed at renewing agreements covering access for the U.S. military have stalled.
    The envoy, Gerald Zackios, told Reuters there had been no talks on renewing its Compact of Free Association Agreement (COFA) with the United States since the end of the Trump administration in 2020, in spite of the priority the Biden administration has attached to boosting Indo-Pacific engagement.
    Zackios said this was because Washington had not appointed a negotiator empowered by President Joe Biden to discuss key issues beyond U.S. economic assistance, including remuneration for the legacy of massive U.S. nuclear testing on the islands, the presence U.S. military bases, and climate-change mitigation.
    A senior official of the Biden administration told Reuters last week it plans to launch a new Pacific Islands initiative with allies and partners and to finalize COFA negotiations with the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau, but gave no timeframe.
    The compacts are due to expire in 2023 in the former two states and in 2024 in Palau.
    “They’ve stalled,” Zackios said in reference to the Pacific republic’s negotiations with Washington.    “In the case of the Marshall Islands, I would use that word.”
    “My view is that these negotiations are stalled until we get a presidential appointed special envoy who will have the authority to discuss key issues that are important to the Marshall Islands.”
    Katie Porter, a Democratic representative who has taken up the issue of the Pacific islands in the U.S. Congress, wrote to Biden’s Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell in September calling for the appointment of a full-time presidential representative to manage the COFA negotiations.
    A spokesperson for Porter, chair of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Natural Resources, said she had yet to receive a formal response.
    The White House and State Department did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.
    U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is in Australia this week for a meeting on Friday of the Quad grouping with Japan, India and Australia, which is expected to include discussion of the Pacific islands.
    On Saturday, he is due in Fiji, where he will seek to reassure Pacific island leaders that Washington and its allies are committed to tackling climate change and providing security and COVID vaccines as China steps up its aid and influence.
    The United States conducted 67 nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands from 1946 to 1958 and islanders are still plagued by the health and environmental effects as a result.
    The tests included the “Castle Bravo” at Bikini Atoll in 1954 – the largest U.S. bomb ever tested and 1,000 times more powerful than the one that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.
    In recent years, Beijing has upped its military and police links with Pacific island nations, while also providing loans and infrastructure.
    Campbell warned last month warned of “strategic surprise” in the Pacific – apparently referring to possible Chinese ambitions to establish Pacific-island bases.
    He said the United States had not done enough to help the region and there was a very short amount of time, working with partners like Australia, New Zealand, Japan and fellow Pacific power France, “to step up our game across the board.”
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Michael Martina; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

2/10/2022 Guatemala’s Supreme Court Strips Anti-Corruption Judge Of Immunity
FILE PHOTO: Judge Pablo Xitumul speaks during the trial of former Guatemala's Vice-President Roxana Baldetti,
who was found guilty of fraud, influence trafficking and illicit association over a government contract,
the first of several cases she faces in Guatemala City, Guatemala, October 9, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
    GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – Guatemala’s highest court announced on Wednesday it had revoked immunity from prosecution for Judge Pablo Xitumul, a prominent anti-graft crusader, in the latest setback in the fight against corruption in the Central American nation.
    Xitumul is a judge in the country’s high-risk courts, which were created after the U.N.-backed anti-corruption commission CICIG pushed reforms to investigate organized crime and corruption.
    He has faced a slew of legal challenges that he regards as revenge for some of his high-level rulings, which have involved a former leader and top officials.
    On Wednesday, the Supreme Court decided by a majority to revoke his immunity, clearing the way for him to be investigated over a traffic-related incident from 2019.
    The Supreme Court’s move comes after other prominent anti-corruption judges and officials have been removed from their posts, jailed, or pushed into exile.
    Xitumul was among a handful of judges on Guatemala’s high-risk courts who submitted a formal complaint to the public prosecutor’s office last year saying they were being persecuted and harassed by unidentified armed individuals.
    In 2013, he handed down an 80-year sentence for genocide to the deceased former dictator, Efraín Ríos Montt.    The sentence was later overturned.
    Five years later, Xitumul also sentenced former Vice President Roxana Baldetti to 15 years in prison for corruption.
    Last year, he drew praise from the United States ambassador to Guatemala, William Popp, who congratulated him for “being a fundamental pillar for a democratic state.”
(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

2/10/2022 Ford, Toyota Halt Some Output As U.S., Canada Warn On Trucker Protests by Carlos Osorio, Blair Gable and Jarrett Renshaw
FILE PHOTO: Vehicles block the route leading from the Ambassador Bridge, linking Detroit and Windsor,
as truckers and their supporters continue to protest against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
vaccine mandates, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio/ File Photo
    WINDSOR/OTTAWA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ford and Toyota on Wednesday both said they were halting some production as anti-coronavirus mandate protesters blocked U.S-Canada border crossings that have prompted warnings from Washington and Ottawa of economic damage.
    Many pandemic-weary Western countries will soon mark two years of restrictions as copycat protests spread to Australia, New Zealand and France now the highly infectious Omicron variant begins to ease in some places.
    Horn-blaring protests have being causing gridlock in the capital Ottawa since late January and from Monday night, truckers shut inbound Canada traffic at the Ambassador Bridge, a supply route for Detroit’s carmakers and agricultural products.
    A number of carmakers have now been affected by the disruption near Detroit, the historic heart of the U.S. automotive sector, but there were other factors too such as severe weather and a shortage of semi-conductor chips.
    Toyota, the top U.S. seller, said it is not expected to produce vehicles at its Ontario sites for the rest of the week, output has been halted at a Ford engine plant and Chrysler-maker Stellantis has also been disrupted.
    Another border crossing, in Alberta province, has been closed in both directions since late on Tuesday.
    More than two-thirds of the C$650 billion ($511 billion) in goods traded annually between Canada and the United States is transported by road.
    Starting as a “Freedom Convoy” occupying downtown Ottawa opposing a vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border truckers mirrored by the U.S. government, protesters have also aired grievances about a carbon tax and other legislation.
    “I think it’s important for everyone in Canada and the United States to understand what the impact of this blockage is – potential impact – on workers, on the supply chain, and that is where we’re most focused,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Wednesday.
    “We’re also looking to track potential disruptions to U.S. agricultural exports from Michigan into Canada.”
    Washington is working with authorities across the border to reroute traffic to the Blue Water Bridge, which links Port Huron in Michigan with Sarnia in Ontario, amid worries protests could turn violent, she told reporters.
    Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem called for a swift resolution.
    “If there were to be prolonged blockages at key entry points into Canada that could start to have a measurable impact on economic activity,” he said.
    “We’ve already got a strained global supply chain.    We don’t need this.”
    The protests were disrupting jobs too and “must end before further damage occurs,” Canada’s Emergency Preparedness Minister, Bill Blair, told reporters.
    Ford suspended engine output in Windsor while its Oakville factory near Toronto is operating with a reduced schedule, as it warned the Ambassador Bridge closure “could have widespread impact on all automakers in the U.S. and Canada.”
    Chrysler-maker Stellantis has also faced a shortage of parts at its assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, where it had to end shifts early on Tuesday, but was able to resume production on Wednesday.
    Protesters say they are peaceful, but some Ottawa residents have said they were attacked and harassed.    In Toronto, streets were being blocked.
    “We continue to know that science and public health rules and guidance is the best way to this pandemic is the way we’re going to get to the other side,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
    The issue has caused a sharp split between the ruling Liberals and the opposition Conservatives, many of whom have expressed open support for the protesters in Ottawa and accuse Trudeau of using the mandates issue for political purposes.
    In the United States, prosecutors in Missouri and Texas will probe crowd funding service GoFundMe over the decision to take down a page for a campaign in support of the drivers after some Republicans vowed to investigate.
    Downtown Ottawa residents criticized police for their initially permissive attitude toward the blockade, but authorities began trying to take back control Sunday night with the seizure of thousands of liters of fuel and the removal of an oil tanker truck.
    Police have asked for reinforcements – both officers and people with legal expertise in insurance and licensing – suggesting intentions to pursue enforcement through commercial vehicle licenses.
    But as the authorities attempt to quell demonstrations in one area, they pop up elsewhere.
    “Even as we have made some headway in Ottawa, we’ve seen an illegal blockade emerge in Windsor,” said Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino.
(Reporting by Carlos Osorio in Windsor, Blair Gable in Ottawa and Jarrett Renshaw in Washington; additional reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny, Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Ismail Shakil and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru, Ben Klayman in Detroit and Doina Chiacu and David Shepardson in Washington; writing by Denny Thomas and Costas Pitas; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Grant McCool)

2/10/2022 Oil up $0.09 to $90.13, DOW down 519 to 35,249.

2/11/2022 US inflation jumps 7.5% in year, steepest rise since 1982 by Christopher Rugaber, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – Inflation soared over the past year at its highest rate in four decades, hammering America’s consumers, wiping out pay raises and reinforcing the Federal Reserve’s decision to begin raising borrowing rates across the economy.
    The Labor Department said Thursday that consumer prices jumped 7.5% last month compared with a year earlier, the steepest year-over-year increase since February 1982. The acceleration of prices ranged across the economy, from food and furniture to apartment rents, airline fares and electricity.
    When measured from December to January, inflation was 0.6%, the same as the previous month and more than economists had expected. Prices had risen 0.7% from October to November and 0.9% from September to October.
    Shortages of supplies and workers, heavy doses of federal aid, ultra-low interest rates and robust consumer spending combined to send inflation leaping in the past year.    And there are few signs that it will slow significantly.

2/11/2022 U.S. Urges Canada To Use Federal Powers To Ease Border Protest Disruption by Carlos Osorio, Steve Holland and Ismail Shakil
Police officers speak with protestors as the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, stands
effectively shut down after truckers and their supporters blocked it in protest against coronavirus disease
(COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada February 10, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio
    WINDSOR, Ontario/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Canada should use federal powers to ease the growing economic disruption caused by the blockage of a vital U.S.-Canada trade route by protesters opposed to coronavirus mandates, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration said on Thursday.
    The closure of the Ambassador Bridge, North America’s busiest international land border crossing and a vital supply route for Detroit’s carmakers, has halted some auto output and left officials scrambling to limit economic damage.
    Canadian truckers started their protests as a “Freedom Convoy” occupying Ottawa, the capital, to demonstrate opposition to a vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers mirrored by the U.S. government.
    They began blocking the Ambassador Bridge on Monday and have since shut two smaller border crossings in Alberta and Manitoba provinces.
    As many pandemic-weary Western countries near the two-year mark on coronavirus restrictions, copycat protests have spread to Australia, New Zealand and France, although the wave of infections caused by the highly infectious Omicron variant has begun to subside in some places.
    U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Thursday urged their Canadian counterparts “to use federal powers to resolve this situation at our joint border,” a White House official said.
    “U.S. and Canadian border and customs authorities are working with great urgency to ensure the continued flow of goods and services across our international border, leveraging alternative land routes, as well as air and sea options.”
    Canadian federal ministers have called the blockade illegal and asked protesters to return home.
    In a tweet on Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he had spoken to Drew Dilkens, the mayor of Windsor, Ontario, which borders Detroit, and said the federal government was ready to help Windsor and the province get the situation under control.
    “It is causing real harm to workers and economies on both sides of the border,” he said.
    Police near the Ambassador Bridge have begun receiving additional manpower, Dilkens told CNN earlier.
    “(If) the protesters don’t leave, there will have to be a path forward.    If that means physically removing them, that means physically removing them, and we’re prepared to do that,” he said.
    Dilkens later said Windsor was seeking a court injunction to have the protesters removed, adding he was striving to resolve the issue peacefully.
    “(While) it may be gratifying for someone to see the forced removal of the demonstrators, such action may inflame the situation and certainly cause more folks to come here and add to the protest, and we don’t want to risk additional conflict,” he said.
    With traffic at times shut in both directions, General Motors Co and Chrysler-parent Stellantis said they had to cancel or reduce shifts because of parts shortages, tacking on to earlier production cuts announced by Ford Motor Co and Toyota Motor Corp.
    Toyota said it was suspending production through Saturday at its plants in Ontario and Kentucky, affecting manufacturing of the Camry, RAV4 and other popular models.
    Ford is looking at flying in some auto parts to a plant in Windsor that produces engines for popular models, a union official said.
    An Ontario court on Thursday froze funds donated to anti-vaccine protesters through the app GiveSendGo.    The convoy group had raised more than $8 million as of late Thursday afternoon, the Boston-based company said.
    Protesters began gathering with their vehicles in Ottawa nearly two weeks ago and have occupied the main downtown street that runs by parliament, the Bank of Canada and the prime minister’s office.
    More than two-thirds of the $511 billion in goods traded annually between Canada and the United States is transported by road.    The Detroit International Bridge Company, which owns the Ambassador Bridge, urged Canada to end the protest by repealing the vaccine mandate or remove the vehicles so trade can resume.
    A third option was to do “nothing and hope this ends on its own: an option that will most likely prolong the blockade, further crippling our economy and putting more jobs at risk,” the company’s chairman, Matt Moroun, said in a statement.
    Seeking to show support for the Canadian protesters, some U.S. truckers said they will send two convoys this weekend to a fourth border crossing that connects Buffalo, New York, and Fort Erie, Ontario.
    The United States is adding staff to its command post at the National Football League’s Super Bowl in Los Angeles in response to reports of a convoy that could cause disruptions at Sunday’s game, the White House official said.
    The official said the Department of Homeland Security was making preparations to ensure that a ‘Freedom Convoy’ event in Washington, D.C., due in early March “does not disrupt lawful trade and transportation or interfere with federal government and law enforcement operations and emergency services.”
(Additional reporting by David Shepardson, Chris Gallagher and Tim Ahmann in Washington, Rod Nickel in Manitoba, Julie Gordon in Ottawa and Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Writing by Rami Ayyub and Costas Pitas; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Richard Chang, Leslie Adler & Simon Cameron-Moore)

2/11/2022 Mexican Journalist Killed In Latest Violent Attack On Media by Kylie Madry and Noe Torres
Police officers guard the perimeter of a scene where Heber Lopez, an independent journalist who ran NoticiasWeb, was shot
and killed at his recording studio, in Salina Cruz, in Oaxaca state, Mexico February 10, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -A Mexican journalist was shot and killed in the southern state of Oaxaca on Thursday, police said, the latest in a string of journalist deaths that have prompted U.S. lawmakers to pressure Mexico to step up protections.
    Heber Lopez, an independent journalist who ran NoticiasWeb, was shot and killed, police officials told Mexican news outlet Milenio.    Lopez was attacked at his recording studio, outlet RCP Noticias said on social media.
    The attorney general for Oaxaca said two people were arrested in relation with the crime, though the investigation was still ongoing.
    Lopez, who worked in the port city of Salina Cruz, had received death threats in 2019, according to some local media reports.
    The journalist regularly wrote about politics and corruption in local government, Rodolfo Canseco, the director of RCP Noticias, told Reuters.
    His death is the latest in a spate of attacks against journalists in Mexico in recent weeks.    Three journalists and one media worker were killed in the month of January alone, and a former journalist was killed on Saturday evening.
    United States Senators Tim Kaine and Marco Rubio urged Mexico on Tuesday to do more to protect journalists, criticizing Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for lashing out against his critics in the media.
    According to human rights organization Article 19, around 145 journalists were killed in Mexico from 2000 to 2021, making Mexico one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists.
    Article 19 called on Mexico’s federal program to protect journalists to “contact (Lopez’s) family members, colleagues and friends as soon as possible, in order to provide the necessary protection measures,” the organization wrote on Twitter.
(Reporting by Kylie Madry and Noe Torres; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

2/11/2022 Analysis-Truckers At Ambassador Bridge In Perfect Spot To Threaten U.S.- Canada Trade by David Lawder
FILE PHOTO: An entrance ramp to the Ambassador Bridge is seen closed in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., due to truckers' protests against
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates in Canada, February 10, 2022. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Canada’s trucker protesters could not have picked a better spot to disrupt the export-driven country’s economy, or the North American auto industry, than the four-lane Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, trade experts say.
    The 92-year old bridge was blocked for a fifth day on Friday by protesters demanding an end to Canada’s vaccine mandate for truck drivers, prompting Ontario province to declare a state of emergency, and auto companies to resort to costly air freights for crucial parts.
    Ambassador has been a vulnerable trade chokepoint for decades, thanks to successful lobbying against a replacement by the billionaire Moroun family that controls it and charges trucks $45 per crossing.
    The bridge carries about $360 million a day in two-way cargoes – 25% of the value of all U.S.-Canada goods trade.    But traffic is limited by its 1929 physical footprint: just two lanes each way with no shoulders and antiquated customs plazas, emptying out into city streets on the Canadian side.
    Relief is coming in the form of a new expressway-only bridge across the Detroit River, but construction will not finish until the end of 2024 – provided it, too, can avoid delays.
    “This is a reminder that the supply chain discussion isn’t just about the ports in LA-Long Beach,” said Dan Ujczo, an Ohio-based lawyer who specializes in U.S.-Canadian trade and transport matters.
    The Biden administration has focused on unclogging containers at U.S. seaports, but the Detroit-Windsor crossing and a U.S.- Mexico bridge at Laredo, Texas are the two most important U.S. border entry points for North American manufacturing, Ujczo said.
    Canada is highly dependent on exports, which account for nearly 32% of its GDP, according to World Bank Data.    The country displaced China as the top U.S. trading partner in 2021.
    Both exports and imports surged during the year from pandemic-depressed levels and Canada’s U.S. trade surplus more than tripled to $48 billion, according to U.S. trade data released on Tuesday.
    The trade crossing’s shutdown and delays at the Blue Water Bridge, 65 miles north of the Ambassador, have impacted auto plants, and other manufacturers from cosmetics to pharmaceuticals.
    “Pretty much across the board, anybody who’s part of the North America supply chain, whether it’s getting parts or goods from the States, or sending parts or goods to the States, are beginning to see things backup significantly,” said Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters president Dennis Darby.
    The economic damage is now spilling down to small businesses that supply components for other auto parts makers and food ingredients, said Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
    “Even pre-pandemic our border infrastructure was incredibly fragile.    There were delays all the time.    And anything went wrong, there was chaos,” Kelly said.    “We’re seeing that in real time now.”
    The opening of the Ambassador Bridge in 1929 gave rise to a cross-border auto industry and U.S.-Canadian economic integration, said Bill Anderson, director of the University of Windsor’s Cross Border Institute.
    Some 2.3 million trucks crossed last year, according to data from the Bridge and Tunnel Operators Association, averaging out to 6,311 a day, or 263 an hour. On some days the bridge handles more than 9,000 trucks and 500 an hour, Anderson said, and crossings can take hours in heavy traffic.
    The Moroun family waged a decades-long battle to thwart construction of a rival crossing, persuading Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature to oppose funding and mounting multiple legal challenges.
    In 2012, Michigan’s then-Governor Rick Snyder accepted a Canadian government offer to fund most of the new bridge’s costs, and took the unusual step of using executive authority to bypass the legislature.
    The $4.4 billion Gordie Howe bridge under construction downriver from the Ambassador will cut 20 minutes off the crossing time, saving truckers $2.3 billion over 30 years, University of Windsor’s Anderson estimated in January
    The new cable-stayed bridge, named after the late Canadian Detroit Red Wings ice hockey star, and its vastly more efficient customs plazas may be more difficult to blockade because it will not empty into city streets, he said.
    “It’s a highway-to-highway connection and it will be faster and far more resilient,” Anderson added.    “It will have a lifespan of over 100 years and give global companies the confidence to continue investing in Canada.”
(Reporting by David Lawder; Additional reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Heather Timmons and Alistair Bell)

2/11/2022 Oil up $3.45 to $93.48, DOW down 153 to 35,089.

2/12/2022 Senators: CIA has secret data stash on Americans - Lawmakers demand details about program by Nomaan Merchant, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – The CIA has a secret, undisclosed data repository that includes information collected about Americans, two Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee said.    Although neither the agency nor lawmakers would disclose specifics about the data, the senators alleged the CIA had long hidden details about the program from the public and Congress.
    Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico sent a letter to top intelligence officials calling for more details about the program to be declassified.    Large parts of the letter, which was sent in April 2021 and declassified Thursday, and documents released by the CIA were blacked out.    Wyden and Heinrich said the program operated “outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection.”
    There have long been concerns about what information the intelligence community collects domestically, driven in part by previous violations of Americans’ civil liberties.    The CIA and National Security Agency have a foreign mission and are generally barred from investigating Americans or U.S. businesses.    But the spy agencies’ sprawling collection of foreign communications often snares Americans’ messages and data incidentally.
    Intelligence agencies are required to take steps to protect U.S. information, including redacting the names of any Americans from reports unless they are deemed relevant to an investigation.    The process of removing redactions is known as “unmasking.”
    “CIA recognizes and takes very seriously our obligation to respect the privacy and civil liberties of U.S. persons in the conduct of our vital national security mission,” Kristi Scott, the agency’s privacy and civil liberties officer, said in a statement.    “CIA is committed to transparency consistent with our obligation to protect intelligence sources and methods.”
    The CIA released a series of redacted recommendations about the program issued by a panel known as the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.    The document details a pop-up box that warns CIA analysts using the program that seeking information about U.S. citizens or others covered by privacy laws requires a foreign intelligence purpose.
    “However, analysts are not required to memorialize the justification for their queries,” the board said.
    Both senators have long pushed for more transparency from the intelligence agencies.    Nearly a decade ago, a question Wyden posed to the nation’s spy chief presaged critical revelations about the NSA’s mass-surveillance programs.
    In 2013, Wyden asked then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper if the NSA collected “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”    Clapper initially responded, “No.”    He later said, “Not wittingly.”
    Former systems administrator Edward Snowden later that year revealed the NSA’s access to bulk data through U.S. internet companies and hundreds of millions of call records from telecommunications providers.    Those revelations sparked worldwide controversy and new legislation in Congress.
    Clapper later apologized in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee, calling his response to Wyden “clearly erroneous.”

The CIA has a foreign mission and is generally barred from
investigating Americans or U.S. businesses. GETTY IMAGES

2/12/2022 Biden And Putin To Speak As Ukraine Warnings Mount by Trevor Hunnicutt
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin meet for the U.S.-Russia
summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will speak on Saturday as Western nations warned a war in Ukraine could ignite at any moment.
    Putin requested the telephone call between the leaders to take place on Monday, a White House official said, but Biden wanted to conduct it sooner as Washington detailed increasingly vivid accounts of a possible attack on Ukraine.
    Australia and New Zealand on Saturday joined the countries urging their citizens to leave Ukraine, after Washington said a Russian invasion, including a possible air assault, could occur anytime.
    Moscow has repeatedly disputed Washington’s version of events, saying it has massed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border to maintain its own security against aggression by NATO allies.
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed hope that Putin would choose diplomacy but said Washington would impose swift economic sanctions if Moscow invades.
    “I continue to hope that he will not choose the path of renewed aggression and he’ll chose the path of diplomacy and dialogue,” Blinken told reporters after a meeting with Pacific leaders in Fiji.    “But if he doesn’t, we’re prepared”
    Putin, jostling for influence in post-Cold War Europe, is seeking security guarantees from Biden to block Kyiv’s entry into NATO and missile deployments near Russia’s borders.
    Washington regards many of the proposals as non-starters but has pushed the Kremlin to discuss them jointly with Washington and its European allies.
    Still, Biden, who will join the weekend call from the mountainside presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland, has long believed that one-on-one engagement with Putin may be the best chance at a resolution.
    Two calls in December between Biden and Putin produced no breakthroughs but set the stage for diplomacy between their aides.    The two leaders have not spoken since, and diplomats from both sides have struggled to find common ground.    Four-way talks in Berlin between Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France on Thursday made no progress.
    Putin also plans to speak with French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
    U.S. intelligence believes a rapid assault on Kyiv is possible and that Putin could order an invasion before the Winter Olympics end on Feb. 20, Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Friday, adding it remains unclear whether such a command has been given.
    He said they had gathered sufficient troops near the border to invade the country and that they may initiate an aerial bombing.
    On Twitter, Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy accused Washington of fanning “hysteria” and mounting a “.”
    Ukrainian officials have tried to tamp down Washington’s assessment an invasion could be imminent.
    Nonetheless, Washington planned to send 3,000 extra troops to Poland, Ukraine’s western neighbor, in coming days to try and help reassure NATO allies, four U.S. officials told Reuters.    They are in addition to 8,500 already on alert for deployment to Europe if needed.
    Meanwhile, Russian forces gathered north, south and east of Ukraine as six Russian warships reached the Black Sea and more Russian military equipment arrived in Belarus. Commercial satellite images from a U.S. firm showed new Russian military deployments at several sites near the border.
    Ahead of the talks with Putin, Biden spoke about the crisis with the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany; Poland and Romania, as well as the heads of NATO and the EU. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke with Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba.
    “Our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering,” Blinken said after the call on Friday.
    Washington also expressed concern that Russia and China were cooperating at the highest level, with a senior administration official saying on Saturday the two were “working to undermine us.”
    A partnership agreement between Moscow and Beijing shows they are in “fundamental alignment” that is growing closer, and a meeting between Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping shows Beijing sees Moscow’s moves regarding Ukraine as “legitimate,” the official told reporters accompanying Blinken on a flight from Australia to Fiji.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by William Mallard and Lincoln Feast.)

2/12/2022 Protesters Defy Injunction Order, Continue To Occupy Key U.S.-Canada Bridge by Kayla Tarnowski and Trevor Hunnicutt
People erect a tent as truck drivers and supporters continue to block access to the
Ambassador Bridge, which links Detroit and Windsor, in protest against coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
vaccine mandates, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada February 10, 2022. REUTERS/ Carlos Osorio
    WINDSOR, Ontario/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Protesters opposing pandemic restrictions flouted a court order and emergency rules, continuing to occupy a vital Canada-U.S. trade corridor early on Saturday, hours after a judge granted an injunction to end the blockade that has crippled North America’s well-knitted auto industry.
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised President Joe Biden quick action to end the crisis, and on Friday a Canadian judge ordered an end to the four-day-long blockade of the Ambassador Bridge, North America’s busiest land border crossing.
    The order came into effect at 7 p.m. Eastern Time (0000 GMT), but five hours after the deadline, some 100 protesters were milling around the entrance to the bridge, waving Canadian flags.
    While the number of protesters and police dropped as the night progressed, demonstrators continued to block the bridge with trucks and pick-up vans, preventing any flow of traffic in either direction.
    Protesters sang the Canadian national anthem and midnight, and some shouted “Freedom!” Police, who started to gather in a parking lot a few blocks away from the protesters, began handing out pamphlets that outlined penalties under Ontario’s emergency order, which took effect at midnight.
Trudeau earlier told reporters that no action was off the table.
    Companies have diverted cargo to stem losses amid production cuts by companies including Ford.
    Superior Court Justice Geoffrey Morawetz on Friday approved the request by auto industry associations and Windsor city authorities hoping to end the protests.    Occupying access roads leading to the bridge on Friday, protesters voiced defiance and there was little sign of them backing down.
    “Canada is supposed to be a free country,” said Liz Vallee, a protester from Chatham, Ontario.    “When that freedom is threatened, we must stand up.”
    Vallee said she and others would stay until all pandemic mandates are lifted.
    The “Freedom Convoy” protests, started by Canadian truckers opposing a vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, are also occupying areas outside government buildings in the national capital Ottawa and have blocked two smaller U.S. crossings.
    The protests have inspired similar convoys and plans in France, New Zealand, Australia and the United States, whose Department of Homeland Security is working to ensure that a “Freedom Convoy” event due in early March in Washington, D.C., “does not disrupt lawful trade.”
    East of Ottawa, people were expected to gather in Fredericton in the province of New Brunswick for a weekend demonstration.    Local police said officers were stationed at entrances to the city to ensure traffic can continue.    Canada’s financial capital Toronto was also bracing for more weekend demonstrations.
    Adding to calls for action by U.S. officials and business leaders, Biden expressed concerns over auto plant closures and production slowdowns during a phone call with Trudeau, the White House said in a statement.
    “The two leaders agreed that the actions of the individuals who are obstructing travel and commerce between our two countries are having significant direct impacts on citizens’ lives and livelihoods,” the statement said.
    “The Prime Minister promised quick action in enforcing the law, and the President thanked him for the steps he and other Canadian authorities are taking to restore the open passage of bridges to the United States,” it added.
    Trudeau told reporters that he agreed with Biden that the blockades cannot continue.
    “Everything is on the table because this unlawful activity has to end and it will end,” Trudeau said.
    U.S.-Canada cross-border trade in vehicles and core parts totaled $51.5 billion in 2021, IHS Markit estimates.
    Biden’s administration had urged Canada to use federal powers to ease the Ambassador Bridge blockade, a step Trudeau’s government has not taken.    Trudeau said on Friday his government was not seriously contemplating calling in the military over the protests.
    The leader of Ontario, where police have avoided using force to disperse protesters, sought to build pressure on Friday by threatening C$100,000 fines and up to a year in prison for non-compliance.
    Announcing the penalties as part of emergency measures, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said they were needed to “make crystal clear it is illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure.”
    Windsor police issued a statement warning of arrests, but it was not clear if or when authorities would begin issuing fines or seeking jail sentences.
    With car production cuts mounting, Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, said on Friday it had temporarily halted work at its assembly plant in Ohio.    General Motors and Toyota also announced new production cuts.
    The stock of Canadian autoparts maker Magna International fell 6.4% on Friday after it said it had seen an initial hit from the bridge’s closure.
    Beyond auto sector losses, the three U.S.-Canada crossings obstructed account for 33% of Canada’s trade with the United States, valued at $616 million per day, Export Development Canada said.
    The bridge’s shutdown could worsen the tight supply of new vehicles in the United States and contribute to the already fast-rising price of new vehicles, IHS Markit said in a Friday report.    Even if the blockade ends, a return to normal will take several weeks as shortages cascade through the supply chain, IHS Markit said.
    Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, home to nearly a fifth of U.S. car production, told CNN: “The Canadian government has to do whatever it takes to safely and swiftly resolve this.”
($1 = 1.2737 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Kayla Tarnowski and Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by Steven Scherer and Julie Gordon in Ottawa, Anna Mehler-Paperny in Toronto, Doina Chiacu and David Shepardson in Washington and Ismail Shakil, Kanishka Singh, and Shivansh Tiwary in Bengaluru; Writing by Rami Ayyub and Denny Thomas; Editing by Grant McCool, William Mallard and Edwina Gibbs)

2/12/2022 Biden Warns Putin On ‘Decisive’ Action If Russia ‘Further’ Invades Ukraine - White House
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin arrive for the U.S.-Russia summit
at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland June 16, 2021. Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden warned his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that the United States and its allies would “respond decisively” if Russia “further” invaded Ukraine, the White House said on Saturday.
    The leaders spoke on a secure call for about an hour on Saturday morning regarding the troop buildup around Ukraine, a White House official said on Saturday.
    “President Biden reiterated that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s standing,” the White House said.
    A U.S. official said the call produced no fundamental change and it was unclear if Russia would pursue diplomacy or military action.
    While the United States was prepared to engage in diplomacy, Washington remained “equally prepared for other scenarios,” the White House added.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Mike Stone in Washington; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Daniel Wallis and Diane Craft)

2/12/2022 No Oil or DOW info.

2/13/2022 Germans Pin Hopes On Novavax Moving The Needle Among Anti-Vaxxers by Riham Alkousaa
FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators protest against government measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) in Berlin, Germany, January 24, 2022. REUTERS/Christian Mang/File Photo
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Benedikt Richter, a 40-year-old teacher in the southwest German city of Kaiserslautern, long held out against getting vaccinated against COVID-19.    He felt uneasy about the novelty of the mRNA technology used in two of the most commonly administered shots.
    It did not help that his sister-in-law was hospitalised with heart muscle inflammation a day after receiving her second shot, which doctors officially linked to her vaccine, Richter said.    Regulators have acknowledged such conditions as a rare and mostly mild side-effect.
    But when the European Union in December approved the use of the Novavax vaccine Nuxavoxid, which deploys a long-established protein-based technology, he became interested.
    “I have done my research and I have a slightly better feeling about it,” said the father of two.
    Data unearthed by Reuters suggests the new two-dose vaccine, recommended in Germany for basic immunisation for people over 18, is already going some way to convince more of the as-yet unvaccinated to get a shot.
    Some federal states have opened waiting lists to receive Novavax shots. In Rhineland-Palatinate where Richter lives, for example, more than 14,300 people have put down their names.    A private Berlin vaccination centre told Reuters they had around 3,000 people registered.
    “The number is gigantic.    We’re overwhelmed ourselves by how many people have signed up,” said Daniel Termann, a doctor at the Historic Factory vaccination centre in Berlin.
    The recombinant protein technology behind the Novavax shot has been in use since the mid-1980s and is now a standard tool to fight hepatitis B, the human papillomavirus behind cervical cancer, and bacteria that cause meningitis.
    A recent survey by researchers at the University of Erfurt with 1,000 participants found that even though unvaccinated Germans had more confidence in traditional vaccines than in mRNA vaccines, trust generally was still low. (Graphic: GRAPHIC-Vaccine confidence,
    Almost two thirds of the unvaccinated were completely against vaccination, the survey found, suggesting that only a small proportion would ever consider taking the Novavax shot.
    “We are not convinced that it will be a game changer,” study co-author Lars Korn told Reuters.
    Much is on the line. Germany has a lower inoculation rate than many other countries in western Europe at just 74.4% fully vaccinated.
    But if Nuxavoxid were able to move the needle, that could prompt an easing of restrictions on public life that are dragging on the recovery of Europe’s largest economy.
    The problem then would be more of how to ensure supply.
    Germany is set to receive up to 34 million Nuvaxovid doses in 2022 and around 4 million doses should be delivered in the first quarter, a spokesperson for the health ministry said.
    But there are around 20 million unvaccinated people in Germany.    And a Reuters report showed on Tuesday that Novavax had delivered just a small fraction of the 2 billion COVID-19 shots it plans to send around the world in 2022 and had delayed first-quarter shipments in Europe and lower income countries such as the Philippines.
    Health sector workers will be prioritised to receive the vaccine in the first quarter as a vaccine mandate for them will come into effect in mid-March, according to the federal health ministry.
    That could prove frustrating for those who are nervous of mRNA vaccines but also fed up with restrictions on public life.
    In many states in Germany, the unvaccinated are banned from non-essential shops and service providers like restaurants and barber shops.
    In a group chat about Novavax on the Telegram messenger service, many of the more than 1,500 members toyed with getting the shot due to pandemic curbs.
    Richter, who has had to take a daily COVID test to teach and learned how to cut his hair by himself, said his main motivation to get vaccinated was freedom.
    He misses sauna visits, which get him through Germany’s dark winters, and would love to take his two children swimming again.
    “I have two children and they are also restricted because of me,” he said.    “I am not doing it out of conviction, but rather from external pressure.”
(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa in Berlin; Additional Reporting by Ludwig Buger and Tom Sims in Frankfurt; Editing by Nick Macfie)

2/13/2022 Canada Police In Standoff With Protesters Blocking Bridge To U.S. by Kayla Tarnowski and Carlos Osorio
A protester gestures towards police officers, who stand guard on a street after Windsor Police said that they
are starting to enforce a court order to clear truckers and supporters who have been protesting against
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates by blocking access to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects
Detroit and Windsor, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada February 12, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio
    WINDSOR, Ontario (Reuters) – Canadian police made the first arrest of a protester blocking a key bridge to the United States on Saturday, more than a day after authorities moved in seeking to end the blockade of the important trade corridor.
    Demonstrators opposing government pandemic restrictions have occupied the Ambassador Bridge for the fifth straight day, snarling international trade and prompting President Joe Biden to call for an end to the siege.    But there was still no sign when traffic would resume.
    Late on Saturday, Windsor Police arrested a 27-year-old male for a criminal offence in relation to the demonstration.
    While police have successfully pushed back protesters from the foot of the Ambassador Bridge, which links Detroit and Windsor, more people were streaming into the area and the operation appeared to have stalled.
    As the afternoon dragged on, some Canadians questioned what was behind the delay, given the order issued by a court on Friday to end the blockade and the imposition of a state of emergency declared by Ontario authorities.
    “It would essentially send a message that the state is not able to retain control, where it’s attempted to do so,” Michael Kempa, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa, told CBC News.
    “The longer this drags on, the longer people have the idea that what they are doing is not an illegal protest,” he said.
    The Ambassador Bridge is North America’s busiest land border crossing. Since Monday, protesters in trucks, cars and vans have blocked traffic in both directions, choking the supply chain for Detroit’s carmakers.
    The “Freedom Convoy” protests, started in the capital Ottawa by Canadian truckers opposing a vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, entered its 16th day on Saturday.    It has morphed into a wider protest against COVID-19 curbs, with people joining in with smaller vehicles, including cars, vans and pick-up trucks.
    During a meeting of his top advisers on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed border crossings cannot, and will not, remain closed, and all options remain on the table, a readout issued by his office said.
    Early on Saturday, Windsor Police urged demonstrators to act lawfully and peacefully.    Officers in black uniforms with yellow vests moved behind the demonstrators’ vehicles and, accompanied by police cruisers, slowly advanced on the protesters, pushing them back from the bridge entrance.
    The number of demonstrators had thinned to roughly two dozen early on Saturday from about 200 on Friday night.
    “We are opening up this intersection to traffic.    If you fail to comply with our instructions you will be arrested,” police told the crowd via a
    Protesters moved back in a noisy but peaceful retreat, dismantling tents and barbecues.    But since then, police have not progressed, witnesses said. Concrete barricades have been set up in front of the police near the Ambassador Bridge to keep protesters from reclaiming any ground.
    Some 4,000 protesters gathered in downtown Ottawa on Saturday and some tore down a fence that had been erected around the National War Memorial.    Ottawa Police has established a new command centre consisting to federal and provincial police to respond to the escalation.
    Protests have spread to other border points, including two smaller crossings in Alberta and Manitoba and Pacific Highway Border Crossing in British Columbia, strangling trade between the two countries.
    Canadian police have said the protests have been partly funded by U.S. supporters and Ontario froze funds donated via one U.S. platform, GiveSendGo, on Thursday.
    Toronto-Dominion Bank has frozen two personal bank accounts into which C$1.4 million ($1.1 million) had been deposited in support of the protesters.
    The protests have inspired similar convoys and plans in the United States, France, New Zealand and Australia.
    In Paris, French police fired tear gas at demonstrators on the Champs Elysees avenue on Saturday shortly after a convoy carrying protesters against COVID-19 restrictions made it into the capital.
    Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, General Motors and Toyota Motor Co all have announced production cuts.    Companies have diverted cargo to stem losses amid production cuts.
    The estimated loss from the blockades just to the automobile industry could be as high as $700 million, based on IHS Markit’s data, which puts the daily flow in vehicles and parts at $141.1 million day in 2021.
(Reporting by Kayla Tarnowski and Carlos Osorio in Windsor; Writing by Denny Thomas; Editing by Amran Abocar, Daniel Wallis and Lincoln Feast.)

2/13/2022 No Oil or DOW info.

2/14/2022 U.S.-Canada Bridge Reopens After Police Clear Protesters by Kayla Tarnowski, David Morgan and Chris Helgren
A police officer reacts on the road leading to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and
Windsor, after police cleared demonstrators, during a protest against coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
vaccine mandates, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada February 13, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio
    WINDSOR, Ontario/WASHINGTON/OTTAWA (Reuters) - North America’s busiest trade link reopened for traffic late Sunday evening, ending a six-day blockade, Canada Border Services Agency said, after Canadian police cleared the protesters fighting to end COVID-19 restrictions.
    Canadian police made several arrests on Sunday and cleared protesters and vehicles that occupied the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, after a court order on Friday.
    The blockade had choked the supply chain for Detroit’s carmakers, forcing Ford Motor Co, the second-largest U.S. automaker, General Motors Co and Toyota Motor Corp to cut production.
    The bridge carries about $360 million a day in two-way cargoes – 25% of the value of all U.S.-Canada goods trade.     A Windsor Police official told reporters that 20 to 30 arrests had been made.    Police also seized vehicles within the demonstration area, according to an earlier statement.
    Police stepped up their presence on Sunday with more than 50 vehicles, including cruisers, buses and an armoured car, as the number of protesters dropped to around 45 from roughly 100 on Saturday.    Windsor Police tweeted “there will be zero tolerance for illegal activity.”
    In Ottawa, counter protests started blocking vehicles trying to join the protests on Sunday, with residents losing patience over the three-week-old demonstrations.
    In the western Canadian province of British Columbia, the Pacific highway border crossing in Surrey was temporarily closed on Sunday afternoon, for a second day, by a group of about 200 protesters, according to a Reuters photographer on the scene.    A small group of protesters gathered on U.S. side of the border, blocking incoming vehicles.
    The “Freedom Convoy” protests, started in the national capital Ottawa by Canadian truckers opposing a vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, entered its 17th day on Sunday.    But it has now morphed into a rallying point against broader COVID-19 curbs, carbon tax and other issues, with people joining in cars, pick-up trucks and farm vehicles.
    “We’re fed up, we’re tired.    We want Ottawa to be boring again,” said an Ottawa resident at a counter protest in front of the city’s police headquarters.
    The Canadian government had discussed whether to invoke special emergency powers to deal with the protests in the capital, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair told CBC News on Sunday.    Blair said the lack of police enforcement in Ottawa was “inexplicable.”
    The rarely used Emergencies Act would allow the federal government to override the provinces and authorize special temporary measures to ensure security during national emergencies anywhere in the country.    It has only been used once in peacetime – by Trudeau’s father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau – in 1970.
    Strangling bilateral trade, protests have spread to three border points, including in Alberta and Manitoba.    Canadian police have said the protests have been partly funded by U.S. supporters, and Ontario froze funds donated via one U.S. platform GiveSendGo on Thursday.
    The estimated loss so far from the blockades to the auto industry alone could be as high as $850 million, based on IHS Markit’s data, which puts the 2021 daily flow in vehicles and parts at $141.1 million a day.
    “Today, our national economic crisis at the Ambassador Bridge came to an end,” Windsor City Mayor Drew Dilkens said in a tweet.
    In Europe, a convoy of 150 cars protesting COVID-19 restrictions left Paris on Sunday morning and headed towards Brussels, protesters told Reuters.
(Reporting by Shivani Tanna In Bengaluru, Kayla Tarnowski in Windsor, Ontario, and Chris Helgrin in Ottawa; Additional reporting by Julio Cesar Chavez and Carlos Osorio in Windsor; Jen Gauthier in SurreyWriting by Denny Thomas; Editing by Amran Abocar, Lisa Shumaker, Daniel Wallis and Gerry Doyle)

2/14/2022 Spain’s Far-Right Vox To Enter Coalition In Castile And Leon Region After Vote
FILE PHOTO: Santiago Abascal, leader of far-right party Vox, speaks during a session
at Parliament in Madrid, Spain, June 30, 2021. REUTERS/Susana Vera/Pool/
    MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish far-right party Vox is likely to gain power in the central Castile and Leon region in a coalition with centre-right People’s Party after the local elections held on Sunday, a setback for left-wing Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
    “Vox has the right and the duty to form a government in Castile and Leon,” Vox’s national chief Santiago Abascal said at a political rally on Sunday evening after his party came third in a snap election.
    He added his party’s local chief now looked likely to be the deputy regional president.
    Regional president Alonso Fernandez Manueco from the People’s Party is likely to keep his job as his party gained a few percentage points of the vote, but didn’t secure the absolute majority he sought.
    The move of Castile and Leon’s electorate to the right is also a setback for the left-wing alliance ruling Spain, as Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist Party and his far-left junior partner Unidas Podemos both lost votes in the elections.
    No national elections are scheduled before next year, though the rise of Vox is ominous for the national ruling coalition and the PP ahead of the regional elections in Andalusia, the country’s most populous region.
    The PP rules Andalusia in coalition with centrist party Ciudadanos, which is rapidly collapsing and has lost almost all its representation in recent elections.
    The demise of Ciudadanos is leaving PP with no other potential partner than Vox.
(Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Toby Chopra)

2/14/2022 Durham’s Latest Findings Get Little Coverage From Mainstream Media by OAN Newsroom
FILE – This 2018 portrait released by the U.S. Department of Justice shows Connecticut’s
U.S. Attorney John Durham. Tasked with examining the U.S. government’s investigation into Russian election
interference, special counsel John Durham charged a prominent cybersecurity lawyer on Thursday,
Sept. 16, 2021, with making a false statement to the FBI. (U.S. Department of Justice via AP Photo)
    Donald Trump said Special Counsel John Durham has revealed top Democrats actually spied on the President of the United States.    In a series of statements on Sunday, the 45th president said Hillary Clinton and Democrats committed a far bigger crime than Watergate, which is an insult to the American people.
    Trump pointed out, it will be interesting to see what the media and RINOs like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will do about it.    His comments come as Durham has found Clinton paid hackers to breach Trump Tower servers to create a fake connection to Russia and have the media report about it.
    Trump is now calling for criminal prosecution of all Democrats involved in manufacturing the Russia hoax.    Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said Trump is right on target calling for criminal prosecution of Democrats involved in its fabrication.
    The Ohio lawmaker said Durham has confirmed Hillary Clinton and her allies were spying on the 2016 Trump campaign and his administration.    He added, the scope of malign activities by the Democrats is found to be worse than previously thought.    Jordan noted, illegal activity by Clinton and Democrats undermines faith in U.S. politics.
    “The conspiracy theory and misinformation came from Adam Schiff, the Democrats and the mainstream press,” said the Republican congressman.    “Schiff said there is more than circumstantial evidence that President Trump worked with the Russians.    That was false, completely false.    The media reported it.    It’s proven to be false…there is certainly now more than circumstantial evidence that the Democrats and the FBI and the Clinton campaign spied on President Trump’s campaign…they’re the ones peddling the false narratives all the time.”
    Investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald also criticized mainstream media for under-reporting these latest findings.    He posted a summary of Durham’s most recent filing challenging people to find “liberal outlets covering it.”    The journalist also said one of Durham’s key suspects is now the Biden administration’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, adding this may be one reason the media is not covering Durham’s findings.
    GOP Representatives Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Steve Scalise (R-La.) have also called out the mainstream media for not covering the latest reported developments in the Durham probe.    In a tweet Sunday, Stefanik said the media is not making a peep about reports of the Clinton campaign paying operatives to infiltrate Trump Tower and White House servers.    The New York lawmaker contended this is the “biggest political corruption story of our lifetime.”
    Scalise, for his part, blasted the media for running with the Russia collusion hoax while sitting silently on this massive scandal.

2/14/2022 Rep. Kinzinger: Jan. 6 Panel ‘Fully’ Expects Giuliani To Cooperate by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., questions witnesses during the House select
committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 27, 2021. Kinzinger is
calling on Democrats and independents to form an “uneasy alliance” with Republicans to fight former
President Donald Trump’s influence in Republican politics. (AP Photo/ Andrew Harnik, Pool, File)
    Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) says the January 6 Committee fully expects Rudy Giuliani to comply with their subpoena.    In an interview on Sunday, the Republican lawmaker pointed out that Giuliani’s meeting with the panel, originally set for Tuesday, has been rescheduled.
    Kinzinger said the commission has been speaking with Giuliani’s lawyers and they fully expect him cooperate.    The former New York City mayor was subpoenaed by the panel on January 18 along with a handful of other attorneys.
    “Regardless of when we hear from Rudy or how long that interview is, we’re getting a lot of information and we’re looking forward to wrapping this up at some,” he stated.    “Showing it to the American people and not rushing it, not hurrying this.    We want everybody to have the full story, that’s what’s important.”
    Giuliani is reportedly considering invoking executive privilege or attorney-client privilege to avoid sharing sensitive information with the partisan panel.

2/14/2022 Dr. Gottlieb: CDC Should Update Mask Guidance Based On Local Data by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Then-FDA Commissioner-designate Scott Gottlieb testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Committee hearing on April 5, 2017 at on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
    Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the FDA, hopes the CDC will release mask guidance’s based on local data.    In an interview Sunday, he said the national public health agency should have released guidance’s based on local data much earlier.
    Dr. Gottlieb also predicted the agency will change their indoor mask guidance soon.    He cited declining COVID-19 cases as grounds for the CDC to update its mask indoor mask rules.
    “I think what you’re going to see the CDC do, though, is come out with guidance that’s more specific to communities,” stated the former FDA chief.    “That’s based on what the local prevalence is and that’s probably where they should have been all along.    I think they’re going to make that adaptation because there clearly are parts of the country where prevalence is low enough now and heading in a positive direction if they can start lifting this mitigation.”
    Dr. Gottlieb’s comments come as several states are loosening up their indoor mask mandates.

2/14/2022 Kremlin Spokesperson Says Moscow, U.S. Relations ‘Lying On The Floor’ by OAN Newsroom
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan gives an update about Ukraine during a press
briefing at the White House, Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    A Kremlin spokesperson has claimed bilateral talks between Moscow and Washington are not going well.    According to reports, the spokesman painted a grim picture by suggestion relations between the two nation’s are so low they are “lying on the floor.”    This comes as the Biden administration says Russia could invade Ukraine at “any time” while Russia accuses the West of “hysteria.”
    Russia has amassed a large number of troops at Ukraine’s border and the U.S. has refused to give in to demands that Ukraine must stay out of NATO.    Despite the tensions, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin are reportedly “in dialogue.”    In the meantime, Russia has Ukraine surrounded on three sides.
    On Sunday, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said intelligence shows an invasion could be imminent, but he’s holding out hope diplomacy can prevail.
    “We have seen over the course of the last 10 days dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces and the disposition of those forces in such a way that they could launch a military action essentially at anytime,” stated the U.S. official.    “They could do so this coming week, but of course it still awaits the go order.”
    Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby substantiated the White House’s assessment, saying a mosaic of good intelligence shows the situation is building now to some kind of crescendo opportunity for the Russian president.    According to reports, six Russian naval landing ships joined a fleet of more than 30 vessels for training exercises in the Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that no one should be surprised if Russia instigates a provocation which it then uses to justify military action. He noted, the White House has their eye out for that possible scenario.
    “We also are watching very carefully for the possibility that there is a pretext or a false flag operation to kick off the Russian action in which Russian Intelligence Services conducted some kind of attack on Russian proxy forces in Eastern Ukraine or on Russian citizens and then blame it on the Ukrainians,” Blinken explained.
    Sullivan suggested a military attack would likely begin with an aerial bombardment that could kill civilians followed by an onslaught of ground forces moving across the Ukrainian frontier.
    If Russia does invade, the U.S.’s response will be to continue supporting Ukrainian resistance and impose economic measures that go after Russia’s financial system and defend NATO allies.

2/14/2022 Trump Addresses Freedom Convoy, Ukraine Crisis by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Oct. 28, 2020, file photo President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at
Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport in Bullhead City, Ariz (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
    The 45th president recently addressed the Freedom Convoy and U.S. involvement in the Ukraine crisis.
    Donald Trump said the tensions between Russia and Ukraine as well as the U.S.’s involvement should have never happened.    During an interview Saturday, the 45th president said he understands why GOP leaders are proposing a bill that would block U.S. military assistance to Ukraine until the U.S. southern border is secured.
    Trump, who was three weeks away from getting the wall built on the southern border before leaving office, reiterated his sympathy for leaders who are fed up with Biden not putting Americans first.
    “All of a sudden, this guy takes over and the border is open,” he stated.    “We have millions of people — I think it’s 10 million, they say 3 million — but people coming in from countries all over the world.    Releasing their prisoners into our country, we’re like a dumping ground. So I can certainly understand how people feel when they say, you know, let’s try to tie one to the other.    We fight for other people’s borders, but we don’t fight for our own border.”
Truckers are pictured in Canada’s capital protesting COVID-related mandates and restrictions. (AP Photo)
    In regards to the Freedom Convoy protesting vaccine mandates at the northern border, Trump commended the demonstrators for their bravery. He also acknowledged many of those participating in the protests are U.S. citizens who have had enough of the mandates in their own country.     “People all over the world are watching and have respect for what they are doing,” he noted.    “They are tired of being pushed around by incompetent people, being told what to do, being forced with the mandates should have not happened.”
    When asked about how he would have handled the pandemic, Trump said he would have left it up to local and state governments to decide what’s best for their state.    Now that multiple Democrat-run states are easing up on mandates, the 45th president pointed out how Republican-led states handled COVID-19 recovery efforts far better than the left.

2/14/2022 Oil up $1.90 to $95.00, DOW down 172 to 34,560.

2/15/2022 Canada’s Trudeau Invokes Emergency Powers In Bid To End Protests by Steve Scherer, David Ljunggren and Nichola Saminather
Truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates from the camp
at the Canadian War Museum, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 14, 2022. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg
    OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday activated rarely used emergency powers in an effort to end protests that have shut some U.S. border crossings and paralyzed parts of the capital.
    Under the Emergencies Act, the government introduced measures intended to cut off protesters’ funding and took steps to reinforce provincial and local law enforcement with federal police.
    “The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety,” Trudeau told a news conference.    “We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue.”
    But the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said the government had not met the standard for invoking the Emergencies Act, which is intended to deal with threats to “sovereignty, security and territorial integrity,” the group said.
    The “Freedom Convoy” protests, started by Canadian truckers opposing a COVID-19 vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, have drawn people opposed to Trudeau’s policies on everything from pandemic restrictions to a carbon tax.    Copycat trucker protests have also sprung up in Israel, France, Australia and New Zealand.
    Protesters blockaded the Ambassador Bridge, a vital trade route between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, for six days before police cleared the protest on Sunday while others have shut down smaller border crossings in Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia.    Protests in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, entered a third week.
    Protesters camped in front of the Canadian Parliament, some of whom want the prime minister to meet with them, said the latest steps were excessive.    “It’s an extreme measure that isn’t necessary,” said protester Candice Chapel.
    The financial measures bring crowdfunding platforms under terror-finance oversight, authorize Canadian banks to freeze accounts suspected of funding the blockades and suspend insurance on vehicles in the protests, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said.
    “We are making these changes because we know that these (crowdfunding) platforms are being used to support illegal blockades and illegal activity which is damaging the Canadian economy,” Freeland said.
    Canadian authorities have said about half of the funding for the protests has come from U.S. supporters. Toronto-Dominion Bank last week froze two personal bank accounts that received C$1.4 million ($1.1 million) for the protests.
    A U.S.-based website, GiveSendGo, became a prime conduit for money to the protesters after mainstream crowdfunding platform GoFundMe blocked donations to the group.    An Ontario court last week ordered GiveSendGo to freeze all funds supporting the blockade, but it said it would not comply.
    Amid criticism that the police approach to demonstrations has been too permissive, Trudeau will use federal officers to back up provincial and local forces.    “Despite their best efforts, it is now clear that there are serious challenges to law enforcement’s ability to effectively enforce the law,” he said.
    In the western Canadian province of Alberta, police said they broke up a group that was armed and prepared to use violence to back a blockade at a border crossing with the United States.
    The Canadian Parliament must approve the use of the emergency measures within seven days, and the left-leaning New Democrat party said it would support Trudeau’s Liberal minority government to pass the measures.
    Ontario, which declared a state of emergency on Friday, backed the move.    But premiers in Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan opposed the plan.    Quebec’s Premier Francois Legault said using emergency powers risked putting “oil on the fire.”
    Trudeau said the measures would be geographically targeted and time limited.
    Ontario said it will speed up its plan to remove proof-of-vaccination requirements and lift pandemic-related capacity limits for many businesses while Alberta ended its mask requirements for school children on Monday.
(Additional reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru, Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Nia Williams in Calgary and Lars Hagberg in Ottawa; Writing by Amran Abocar; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Paul Simao and Cynthia Osterman)

2/15/2022 Omicron Threat Remains High In East Europe – WHO
FILE PHOTO: Ambulances are seen on a road outside a hospital for patients infected with the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia February 1, 2022. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
    (Reuters) – A new wave of infections from the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is moving towards the east of Europe, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, urging authorities to improve vaccination and other measures.
    Over the past two weeks, cases of COVID-19 have more than doubled in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine, WHO’s Europe regional director Hans Kluge said in a statement.
(Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

2/15/2022 EU Watchdog Calls For Ban On Surveillance Tool Pegasus
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Israeli cyber firm NSO Group is seen at one of its branches
in the Arava Desert, southern Israel July 22, 2021. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/
    AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The European Union’s data protection watchdog called on Tuesday for a ban on the controversial spyware tool Pegasus, developed by Israeli-based NSO Group.
    The EDPS said use of Pegasus might lead to an “unprecedented level of intrusiveness, able to interfere with the most intimate aspects of our daily lives.”
    Israel has come under global pressure over allegations that Pegasus has been abused by some foreign client governments to spy on human rights activists, journalists and politicians.
    NSO has said it could not confirm or deny any existing or potential customers for Pegasus.    It said it does not operate the system once sold to its governmental customers nor is it involved in any way in the system’s operation.
    “A ban on the development and the deployment of spyware with the capability of Pegasus in the EU would be the most effective option to protect our fundamental rights and freedoms,” the EDPS said.
    “At the centre of debate on tools like Pegasus should not only be the use of the technology, but the importance we attribute to the right to privacy.”
    An investigation published last year by 17 media organisations, led by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden Stories, said the spyware had been used in attempted and successful hacks of smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights activists on a global scale.
(Reporting by Bart Meijer and Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Kim Coghill)

2/15/2021 GOP Senators Call For An End To COVID-19 State Of Emergency by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Sen. Marsha Blackburn, D-Tenn., speaks during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee
on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security hearing to examine COVID-19 fraud and price
gouging, on Feb. 1, 2022 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)
    GOP lawmakers are stressing it’s time to move on from the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, a handful of senators, including Mike Lee (R-Utah), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), sent a letter to their colleagues urging them to not help Democrats push a continuing resolution to fund the federal government unless Democrats defund vaccine mandates.
    The lawmakers pointed out these mandates pose tremendous social and economic costs on American families.    They decried such actions as unconstitutional, unlawful and an abuse of federal power.    The GOP senators added, while Joe Biden has not sought the enforcement of vaccine mandates since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down OSHA’s mandate on federal workers, he could push another mandate in the future.
    Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) echoed these calls while claiming the Biden administration has forgone scientific evidence to promote a restrictive agenda.
    “They’ve got the list of boxes they have to check off,” she explained.    “We’ve killed the Keystone pipeline.    We’ve got mandates.    We’ve got people in masks.    We’ve got people in lockdowns.    They’re going to lose their job if they don’t go get a jab.    They’ve got an agenda.    For all of this bluster about fundamentally transforming our way of life, all Joe Biden has managed to do is to alienate his fellow countrymen.”
    Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) claimed he and most of Americans believe it’s time to return to normal, adding COVID-19 is here to stay.    The Kentucky lawmaker decried Democrats who support forcing children to mask up at schools while rich celebrities watched the Super Bowl “without a mask in sight.”    McConnell also said it’s absolute bonkers for Democrats to push for zero-COVID while asserting that there’s no reasonable health expert who says that’s possible.
    However, the Republican senator commended several Democrat leaders for announcing a rollback on their vaccine and mask mandates as several cities and states, including California, Connecticut, D.C. and New Jersey, plan to return to normal.    McConnell believes this all has nothing to do with the actual science.
    “The only science that’s changed in the last two weeks is the political science,” he stated.    “The only data that has changed in the last two weeks is Democrats’ polling data.    The Washington Post put it like this, ‘the abrupt end to mask mandates reflects a shifting political landscape.’    While Democratic leaders are stampeding to finally follow the science and end burdensome mandates on adults, in many places America’s children are still being left behind.”
    In the meantime, Sen. Marshall plans to introduce a bill to end the federal state of emergency.    The law would strip away many federal powers to respond to national emergencies under the National Emergency Act, which was invoked by 45th President Donald Trump and then Biden to tackle COVID. Biden extended the emergency order to March 1 and lawmakers are debating whether to further extend the order or return to normal.

2/15/2022 Biden Admin. Refuses To Comment On Durham Bombshell, Refers To DOJ For Comment by OAN Newsroom
White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during a press briefing
at the White House, Monday, Feb. 14, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
    The Biden administration refused to comment on the latest filing by Special Counsel John Durham, which reveals a Democrat spying effort against 45th President Donald Trump.
    During a press briefing Monday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked whether it’s appropriate to “infiltrate” computer servers of a political opponent to create a false narrative.    Jean-Pierre did not answer that question.
    This came after Special Counsel Durham found Hillary Clinton hired operatives to try and establish a false computer connection between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.
    Meanwhile, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said he expects more indictments in the ongoing Durham probe.    During an interview on Monday, he explained that he met with Durham in 2020 to share with him intelligence documents about the origins of the Russia hoax.
    Ratcliffe said he gave Durham a CIA document, which showed Clinton approved the Russia hoax plan in 2016 to distract from her emails and Benghazi scandals.    His remarks came after Durham found Clinton hired operatives to infiltrate Trump Tower servers to establish a fake connection to Russia.
    “So what John Durham pleading talks about is that Hillary Clinton’s lawyer, Michael Sussmann, took this information from the tech executives and pitched it to the FBI as evidence of Trump-Russia connections that simply weren’t true,” stated the former Director of National Intelligence.    “And that the lawyer, Michael Sussmann, and the tech executive knew not to be true.”
    Ratcliffe went on to say Clinton and her allies were involved in a criminal conspiracy and may face indictments moving forward.

2/15/2022 Poll: 66% Democrats Want Hillary Clinton Investigated by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Oct. 9, 2016, file photo Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton
speak during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
    A majority of Democrats want Hillary Clinton to be investigated for her role in the alleged invasion of 45th President Donald Trump’s campaign servers.    According to data from a Techno Metrica Institute of Policy and Politics (TIPP) survey released on Monday, 66 percent of Democrats wanted an investigation even before the bombshell filing by John Durham.
    Those also in favor of probe into Clinton included 75 percent of Americans who followed the Durham investigation, 91 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of independents.    TIPP’s poll also found a majority of voters want more scrutiny placed on the Biden family, specifically walling off Hunter and Jim Biden off from any business involving the administration.
    Meanwhile, former Democrat congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard slammed Hillary Clinton amid reports of alleged spying by her campaign on the Trump campaign in the 2016 election.    In an interview Monday, she accused Clinton of manufacturing the “Russia collusion lie” and actively undermining democracy.
    The Durham investigation makes clear that Hillary Clinton and the power elite spied on the Trump campaign and White House, undermining our democracy, launching us into a new Cold War, endangering America and the world,” noted the congresswoman.    “Clinton and her warmongers must be held accountable."
    The former presidential candidate contended Clinton was motivated by selfish ambition and a desire for power and asserted she needs to be held accountable.    Gabbard also warned people integral in propagating claims of Russia collusion, like National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, are now shaping foreign policy in the Biden administration.

2/15/2022 GOP Increasingly Bullish About November Prospects by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol
on December 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
    November’s victory is already in the air for Republicans as more come out and state for certain the party will retake the House with a red wave.    On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the party would for sure take back the House, so he’s focusing on what a Republican House should be doing.
    “I’m not worried about us taking back the House,” asserted the South Carolina lawmaker.    “We’re gonna take back the House unless we really screw this thing up.    What I’m looking for is an America first agenda, like the contract for America, you remember 1994.”
    In the House, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) feels very confident about becoming the next Speaker of the House.    He isn’t talking about his hopes for if he is elected, but what he’s planning on delivering on when the party takes the majority.    McCarthy wants a parents bill of rights and to reform how the House has operated under current Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-Calif.).br>     “We’ll change up the inner workings of Congress itself,” said the California lawmaker.    “Now, members don’t even have to show up.    They can just vote by proxy.    I think that’s wrong.    People should show up for work.    We’ll make sure bills go through committees, unfortunately today that’s not the case.    We’re going to open the people’s House back up to the people.”
    It’s not just Republicans who think the party will retake the House.    For more than a year, Democrats have promised the only way out of the coronavirus pandemic is to force facial coverings and vaccines onto everyone.    Democrat approval ratings began dropping very quickly with the collapse accelerating after numerous foreign and domestic failures.
    Democrats are trying to rebuild their base of support and have done a complete 180 on support for restrictions.    With poll numbers on COVID collapsing and most Americans opposing restrictions now, the chair of the House Campaign Committee, Sean Patrick Maloney, has decided it is time to move on.
    “People are sick to death of this pandemic,” said Maloney.    “We believe that because of the President’s leadership and the Democratic plan to beat the virus, that we will be in a position to communicate a clear off ramp and to make sure people will be in a position to care for themselves and their families.    That we trust parents to know best for their children and their schools.”
    Joe Biden’s aggregate polling has him below 40 percent, which is a record low for the first year of any administration.    Congressional Democrats are not faring much better as they are underwater by more than three-points in the generic congressional ballot.    Republicans need to net only five seats to retake the chamber.

2/15/2022 Oil down $2.75 to $92.05, DOW up 422 to34,988.

2/16/2022 Hot Tubs, Hapless Police And A Bridge Too Far For Canada’s Trudeau by Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren
FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators dance in the streets as truckers and supporters continue to protest against the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 12, 2022. REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo
    OTTAWA (Reuters) – Frustration with the failure of Canadian police to lift blockades at the border and in the capital, along with scenes of protesters lounging in hot tubs near Parliament, ultimately drove Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to seek emergency powers, three sources said on Tuesday.
    Trudeau on Monday invoked the little-used Emergencies Act, signaling the federal government was taking control of a situation local and provincial police have struggled to resolve as protests against pandemic restrictions dragged on.
    Discussions on invoking the rarely used powers first began on Thursday as the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge, a key U.S.-Canada trade artery between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, entered its third day, two of the sources, who are familiar with the discussions, said.
    “The Windsor police kind of let it happen,” one of the sources said.    All requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.    Windsor police asked for more resources, which the province provided.
    The bridge blockade led to the temporary shutdown of several car plants before police finally cleared it on Sunday after six days, and after a concerned call from U.S. President Joe Biden to Trudeau.
    Meanwhile, protesters who had paralyzed parts of Ottawa since Jan. 28 were getting more entrenched, and there was growing concern about the presence of “nefarious elements” among the protesters.    Police in Alberta later seized guns and ammunition from a group linked to a border protest.
    “The prime minister was quite mad,” said a government source, referring to a Thursday meeting of the federal Incident Response Group, made up of Trudeau’s top advisers.    “He said we need to get out in front of this.”
    “He was demanding solutions” at the meeting, a third source familiar with the matter said, adding Trudeau was saying: “Let’s put everything on the table and say, what are the good ideas here?
    The third source said the government realized last week that “enforcement wasn’t happening” after initially waiting to see how provincial authorities and local police responded.
    “He also needed to know fully that … we have given it enough time for it to work or not work, or partially work, and think about what more we need to do,” the source said.    “He didn’t want to jump ahead of things that were happening.”
    Ottawa police initially said their objective was to de-escalate.    Later they asked both the provincial and federal governments for more resources, saying they were outnumbered.
    The addition of chaotic scenes from Ottawa on the weekend, including hundreds of residents turning out to block another convoy from joining the protesters, proved too much, two of the sources said.
    Police stood by as protesters bathed in a hot tub and partied into the night directly in front of parliament and below the prime minister’s office.
    “This past weekend in Ottawa really drove some people over the edge, the hot tub, the stage, and … the impotence of the police to do something about it,” the source said.
    Police chief Peter Sloly resigned on Tuesday amid criticism of his force’s performance, city officials said on Tuesday.
    The Ottawa protest involves some 360 trucks and vehicles, several hundred protesters, and a large cache of funds from donors in the United States and Canada.
    “If you’re asking for one factor, it was Ottawa … the Ottawa situation is completely out of control.    We just went through a third weekend of no enforcement,” said the second source.
    Concerns that protesters may re-occupy border crossings and disrupt crucial trade flows with the United States and affect publicly safety also factored into the decision, the sources said.
    Another factor was the specter of violence when police in Alberta on Monday arrested 11 people and seized guns and ammunition.
    “There are organized nefarious elements that are involved with these things,” said the second source, citing the Alberta gun seizure.
    “There’s an element here that is … trying to subvert the normal course of our democracy, which has to be protected, regardless of who’s the government,” the third source said.
    “That’s really the difference between this and other protests that we’ve seen.”
($1 = 1.2744 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Steven Scherer; Editing by Amran Abocar and Lisa Shumaker)

2/16/2022 Canadian Prime Minister Invokes Act To Freeze Freedom Convoy Funding, Use Military Force by OAN Newsroom
Anti-COVID-19 vaccine mandate demonstrators leave in a truck convoy after blocking the highway at the busy
U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alta., Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)
    The Canadian government gave itself the power to jeopardize the finances and livelihoods of anti-mandate demonstrators.    On Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in his country’s history.    The measure allows him to seize protesters personal bank accounts crowdfunding and cryptocurrency.
    The Prime minister may also summon the military to disband demonstrations he deems to be a national security threat.    Trudeau argued his actions are an example of responsible governance and is not an attempt to silence free speech.
    “It’s what responsible leadership requires,” he asserted.    “These measures must be and will be compliant with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.    We will always defend the rights of Canadians to peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression.    But these blockades need to end and, unfortunately, conservative politicians continue to encourage the leaders of these blockades.”
    Acting opposition leader Candice Bergen, however, alleged Trudeau and his liberal party are clinging onto an outdated COVID response.    Bergen noted, the prime minister has tried all avenues to dismantle the Freedom Convoy except for ending the mandates they are protesting.
    “This is about the prime minister’s ideological attachment to keeping COVID restrictions and mandates,” stated the opposition leader.    “Sixty-three percent of Canadians want the restrictions and mandates to end. Conservatives presented a motion yesterday asking simply for a plan, but the prime minister is in denial and is ignoring the science.    He might as well be back at the cottage because he’s doing nothing productive or constructive to help this situation.”
    The opposition leader also inquired when Trudeau plans to end his COVID restrictions.    Rather than announce a deadline, the prime minister used his time on the floor to accuse conservatives of divisiveness in the face of a national emergency.
    Although Trudeau has not alleviated any federal restrictions, provinces such as Alberta and Ontario have announced plans to end their vaccine passport programs.    In the meantime, civil rights groups are sounding the alarm over the move while truckers say they are undeterred and will stand their ground until COVID mandates are lifted.

2/16/2022 Trump Calls For DOJ To Declassify All Trump-Russia Probe Docs by OAN Newsroom
Hillary Clinton is pictured. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
    Hillary Clinton ignored questions from a reporter about her campaign’s surveillance of 45th President Donald Trump.    On Tuesday, she was confronted by a journalist from the Daily Mail who demanded answers about new developments in the Durham probe.
    While the bombshell findings seem to have left Clinton speechless, Trump weighed in during an interview on Tuesday.    He stressed this is “just the beginning” of what’s to come.    Trump called on the Justice Department to declassify further details of the so-called Russia probe.
    The 45th president said the DOJ should “absolutely” declassify the remaining records in the investigation and pointed out the agency is already under an order to do so.    Trump previously ordered the declassification to begin back in 2019 during his administration, but the Joe’s Biden’s Justice Department appears to have made little progress on the issue.
    Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) fired off a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting more information on why they haven’t followed through on the order.    Meanwhile, several other Republican senators say Clinton campaign operatives will be held accountable for their actions amid the bombshell revelations from the Durham probe.
    Specifically, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) called to hold Clinton accountable for spying on the 2016 Trump campaign and lying about the Russian collusion hoax.    On Tuesday, he said the actions by Clinton-paid operatives uncovered by Special Counsel Durham is illegal and wrong.
    The Florida lawmaker also pointed out that Democrat congressmen Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) are complicit in the Russia hoax.    In response, Schiff’s office accused Scott of “misinformation” and it refused to address the subject matter.
    Clinton finally broke her silence regarding Durham’s revelations in a Wednesday Twitter post.    She claimed both Trump and the media are “desperately spinning up a fake scandal to distract from his real ones.”    She went on to suggest it’s a lie while sharing an article by Vanity Fair, which she claimed debunks the accusations.

2/16/2022 FDA Executive Officer Sounds Alarm On Future COVID-19 Policy by OAN Newsroom
A healthcare worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at
Jackson Memorial Hospital on Oct. 5, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
    A new Project Veritas report has sparked serious concern about the Biden administration’s potential future COVID-19 policy.    In an undercover interview released on Tuesday, an FDA executive officer appears to admit Biden wants to “inoculate as many people as possible” and require yearly booster shots.
    Christopher Cole explained his agency oversees vaccines and that he’s worked at the FDA for over 20 years.    He went on to say if pharmaceutical companies can push yearly booster shots, it will be a “recurring fountain of revenue.”    The FDA official also admitted the vaccines quickly lose effectiveness.
    “So you”ll have to get an annual shot,” he stated.    “I mean, it hasn’t been formally announced yet because they don’t want to rile everyone up… I think what’s going to happen is it’s going to be a gradual thing.    School’s going to mandate it…the vaccine, it wanes.”
    The FDA manager then went so far as to say vaccine companies want to push booster shots on toddlers.    However, he admitted there have not been enough tests to assure parents it is safe.

2/16/2022 Oil up $0.08 to $92.17, DOW down 55 to 34,934.

    President Joe Biden is ordering the release of Trump White House visitor logs to the House committee investigating the assault Jan.6, 2021, once more rejecting former President Donald Trump’s claims of executive privilege.
    The committee has sought a trove of data from the National Archives, including presidential records that Trump had fought to keep private.    The records being released to Congress are visitor logs showing appointment information for individuals who were allowed to enter the White House on the day of the insurrection.

2/17/2022 Trial Of Russian Charged With Space Tech Espionage Begins In Germany
FILE PHOTO: A tank of Ariane 6, Europe's next-generation space rocket, is pictured in a production line of
Ariane Group in Bremen, Germany, February 19, 2019. Picture taken February 19,2019. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo
    MUNICH (Reuters) – The trial of a Russian researcher charged with spying on Europe’s Ariane space launcher project for Russia began in a court in Munich on Thursday.     Germany arrested the suspect, identified only as Ilnur N., last year and later charged him with espionage for allegedly passing information on Europe’s Ariane space launcher vehicle to handlers from Russian intelligence.
    The trial casts a spotlight on Russian intelligence activity in Germany as world powers are engaged in one of the deepest crises in East-West relations in decades.
    Prosecutors said that Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) first approached N. no later than autumn 2019, adding he had told the SVR he was prepared to cooperate with them.
    An official familiar with the matter said the suspect worked at the University of Augsburg, a centre for aerospace research.    The city is also home to large parts of the manufacturing for the next-generation Ariane 6 launch vehicle.
    Jointly owned by Airbus and France’s Safran, ArianeGroup is one of the best-established players in the fast-growing global launch market, where competition between players like Russia’s Roskosmos and private sector upstarts like Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX is fierce.
    Germany is a frequent target of Russian intelligence operations, Germany’s counter-espionage agency has said.
    In December, a German court found that Russian agents had been behind the 2019 murder, in broad daylight in a central Berlin park, of a Chechen dissident, an act the judge labelled “state terrorism.”
    Russia dismissed the state terrorism and murder verdict as “not objective and politically motivated.”
(Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Miranda Murray and Raissa Kasolowsky)

2/17/2022 U.S. VP Harris To Meet World Leaders In Munich Amid Ukraine Tension by Nandita Bose
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks prior to President Joe Biden signing an executive
order on federal construction project contracts and labor agreements during a visit to Ironworkers
Local 5 in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, U.S., February 4, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will meet world leaders including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Munich this week, her highest-profile foreign trip yet, as the Biden administration tries to prevent a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
    Senior U.S. officials said on Wednesday they suspect Russia has increased its already heavy presence on the Ukraine border by up to 7,000 troops in the last few days, and they did not believe Russia’s assertion it is withdrawing troops.
    Harris will arrive at the Munich Security Conference on Friday.    She also plans to meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and the leaders of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, the officials said.
    During her trip, a diplomatic test of her vice presidency, Harris will discuss a “path to de-escalation” in the Ukraine crisis, the officials said.
    She will also discuss economic measures that would be deployed in the event of an invasion as well as America’s readiness to further reinforce NATO allies on its eastern flank.
    “She is not going with any deliverables per se because the key objective for her trip now is to focus on this fast-changing, evolving situation, the tremendous challenge that we are facing now,” one of the officials said.
    The Munich conference, launched by Western nations at the height of the Cold War to address military conflicts, takes place on Feb. 18-20.
    The U.S. officials did not say what contingency plans are in place should an invasion of Ukraine occur while Harris is overseas.    “We are in a fluid situation,” one said.
    White House officials say President Joe Biden’s decision to send Harris to the Munich conference amid the tension over Ukraine demonstrates his confidence in her.
    Harris has also sought to burnish her foreign policy credentials on previous trips to meet leaders in Central America, Asia and Europe.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington, Editing by Kieran Murray)

2/17/2022 WHO Calls For Strengthened Role As U.S. Proposes New Pandemic Fund by Kate Lamb and Stanley Widianto
FILE PHOTO: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks
during a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, December 20, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
    JAKARTA (Reuters) – Efforts to strengthen global health security will only succeed if the role of the World Health Organization (WHO) is enhanced, the agency’s head said on Thursday, as its biggest donor, Washington, proposed a new global pandemic prevention fund.
    Speaking via video link at a G20 meeting of finance leaders, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was responding to the idea of a separate global health fund tasked with delivering emergency funds, vaccines and other medical needs.
    “It’s clear that at the centre of this architecture, the world needs a strong and sustainably financed WHO … with its unique mandate, unique technical expertise and unique global legitimacy,” Tedros told a panel in the Indonesian capital.
    “Any efforts to enhance the governance, systems, and financing of global health security can only succeed if they also enhance WHO’s role,” he said.
    During the discussion, Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said, “The WHO must remain at the centre of the global health architecture,” adding, “We need to work even more to create a stronger architecture on health policies.”
    At a separate discussion, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urged G20 members to back the proposed fund for pandemic prevention and preparedness.
    Seeking to dispel reservations raised by some among the world’s 20 biggest economies, Yellen said it would not siphon off money needed to strengthen the WHO, or create a new multilateral body.
    “We don’t see this as a pool of money that sits idly waiting to respond to the next pandemic,” she said, adding that the new fund would spur investment in disease detection and surveillance systems against future crises.
    World Bank Group President David Malpass told the same panel the agency was “working rapidly on a new financial intermediary fund … to increase financing for pandemic preparedness and response.”
    Indonesia is the host of the G20 this year.
    Last week, its health minister questioned if the WHO was best placed to raise capital for a global health fund required to deliver emergency aid, including money, vaccines and diagnostics, in a future pandemic.
    Under the current system, said the minister, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, countries were “basically on their own” in securing vaccines and vital medical supplies.
    Top WHO donor the United States is also pushing for the creation of a separate fund, directly controlled by donors, that would finance prevention and control of health emergencies.
    Strengthening the global health architecture is one of President Joko Widodo’s priorities during Indonesia’s leadership of the G20.
(Reporting by Stanley Widianto and Kate Lamb; Writing by Kate Lamb; Editing by Ed Davies and Clarence Fernandez)

2/17/2022 Analysis-U.S. Congress May Squawk Over A New Iran Deal But Is Unlikely To Block It by Patricia Zengerle and Arshad Mohammed
FILE PHOTO: A member of Austrian armed forces walks past Palais Coburg, the site of a meeting of the
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in Vienna, Austria, February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Despite threats from nearly three dozen Republican senators to thwart a revived Iran nuclear deal and the misgivings of some top Democrats, there is little chance the U.S. Congress can block a new accord if one comes to fruition.
    Lawmakers, congressional aides and former officials noted that Congress failed to quash the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the pact is titled, in 2015 when Republicans controlled both the House of Representatives and Senate.
    That is even less likely now that U.S. President Joe Biden’s fellow Democrats control both chambers, albeit by tight margins.
    Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat who backed the JCPOA seven years ago, said it was not clear if Biden would have to bring a deal to Congress if he simply re-entered the previous pact. But even if the president did, Kaine saw no chance of lawmakers blocking it.
    “They didn’t have votes to overturn a diplomatic deal (in 2015) and I don’t think they’d have votes to overturn a diplomatic deal now,” Kaine said.
    Talks resumed in Vienna last week about getting both sides to resume compliance with the deal under which Iran curbed its nuclear program to make it harder to get a bomb – an ambition Tehran denies – in return for relief from economic sanctions.
    As the talks near their endgame, a simmering U.S. debate has flared anew over reviving the deal, which then-President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.    He began a “maximum pressure” campaign reimposing U.S. sanctions and prompting Iran to start violating its nuclear limits about a year later.
    France’s foreign minister on Wednesday said a decision on salvaging the deal was just days away and other sources said the next couple of days were crucial.
    Among the sticking points are Iranian concerns that a new U.S. president could abandon the deal as Trump did.
    Speaking to the Financial Times this week, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian suggested Western “parliaments or parliament speakers, including the U.S. Congress,” issue a political statement of their commitment to the agreement.
    Two sources tracking the talks said his call is likely to fall on deaf ears in Congress, where hostility to Iran and skepticism about any agreement run deep.
    Senate Republicans unanimously opposed the 2015 accord reached by then-Democratic President Barack Obama.    Last week, 33 wrote     Biden warning they would thwart implementation of any pact if Congress was not allowed to review and vote on it under the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA).
    Some of the handful of Democrats who opposed the 2015 pact have also expressed doubts.
    Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an opponent of the 2015 deal, gave a fiery speech last week saying: “At this point, we seriously have to ask what exactly are we trying to salvage?
    While arguing Trump’s decision to abandon the deal let Tehran make significant nuclear advances, Menendez also held out the possibility of a broader agreement in which more Iranian nuclear restrictions could be met by greater sanctions relief.
    Former officials also saw little chance the Senate would kill an agreement, either one that closely hewed to the original’s terms or one that made material changes.
    “They were unhappy with the agreement in 2015 and they have no reason to be happier now, but I would assume most Democrats would go for a party-line vote,” said Elliott Abrams, Trump’s last special representative for Iran.
    Under INARA, the executive branch must give Congress the text of any accord with Iran about its nuclear program within five days, opening a window for legislators to review and vote on it if they wish.
    A U.S. State Department spokesperson did not address whether it would submit a deal that strictly revived the 2015 accord to Congress, but said Biden believed a bipartisan approach to Iran was best and was committed to meeting INARA’S requirements.
    If both houses of Congress voted against such a deal in a joint resolution of disapproval, and the president vetoed that, it would require two-thirds majorities in both chambers to overturn the veto and kill the agreement.
    In the Senate, 17 Democrats would have to break with Biden if every Republican opposed a deal.    An override would also need more than 75 Democrats to vote against Biden if every Republican in the House opposed the deal.
    “It is, I think, extremely unlikely you could get to 67 votes to kill it,” said Tess Bridgeman, who was deputy legal adviser to the National Security Council during the Obama administration and is now co-editor in chief of Just Security.
    In a 2015 procedural vote, only four Democratic senators – Ben Cardin, Joe Manchin, Menendez and Chuck Schumer – joined 54     Republicans in opposing the deal, failing to get the 60 votes needed to actually vote on the accord, let alone 67 to kill it.
    Cardin said he would have to see what was in any new deal before deciding how to vote.
    “It was disastrous to get out of the agreement,” Cardin told Reuters.    “We are in much worse shape.”
(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed in Saint Paul, Minn. and Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Editing by Mary Milliken and Cynthia Osterman)

2/17/2022 Ottawa Protesters Vow To Stay As Canada Warns Of Extremists by Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren
A man waves the flag of Canada around parked trucks, as protests against coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
vaccine mandates continue, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 16, 2022. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
    OTTAWA (Reuters) – Protesters continued their three-week-old blockade of the core of Canada’s capital on Thursday after officials warned of extremist elements present among them who want to overthrow the government.
    On Wednesday, police in Ottawa handed out flyers warning truck drivers and others paralyzing the downtown core that they should leave or face arrest, but there was little sign of imminent action to move the nearly 400 vehicles out.
    While the demonstrators protest against vaccine mandates and pandemic restrictions, they also have made clear their opposition to Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and some have said they want to kick him out of office.
    A portion of the protesters “have strong ties to a far-right extreme organization with leaders who are in Ottawa,” Canada’s Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said, referring to the arrest of 13 people in Alberta earlier this week linked to a border blockade there that has since disbanded.
    They had guns and ammunition and police have charged four of them for conspiracy to commit murder.    While the Ottawa protest has been loud and rowdy, it has been non-violent.
    “I’m not afraid,” said a protester in Ottawa on Wednesday who declined to give his name.    “We’re here peacefully and we will remain peacefully.    Even if they attempt to arrest us, we will be arrested peacefully.”
    On Monday Trudeau invoked emergency powers in order to end the protests.    Justice Minister David Lametti said the emergency legislation would be presented to the House of Commons on Thursday.
    “We are going to take back the entirety of the downtown core and every occupied space,” Interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell said in a statement on Thursday, adding that the action would be taken in “coming days” and that it would “take time” to do right.
    The left-leaning New Democrats said they would support the minority Liberal government, ensuring the powers would pass.
    Meanwhile on Thursday one of the protest organizers, Pat King, posted a video on Twitter warning police to stand down.
    “Back off.    Stand down.    Put your badge on the ground… and stand with the people,” King said.    “When this comes to an end, just following orders is not going to be a good legal defense.”
(Reporting by Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren; editing by Diane Craft)

2/17/2022 Oil up $1.07 to $91.76, DOW down 622 to 34,312.

2/18/2022 On this day why was OANN being blocked from YouTube?
    Not only is OANN being blocked from uploading and live streaming for a week but it’s now unable to earn ad revenue on any of its videos.    To start monetizing its videos again, YouTube is requiring OANN to re-apply to the YouTube Partner Program.    YouTube’s actions also put the OANN channel at risk of deletion if it receives further strikes.
    If not for OANN we would never have learned of the two-year investigation into voter tabulation systems.
    This news is urgent.    YouTube has suspended ‘One America News Network’ from its platform following a letter from Democrat Senators calling upon the video hosting platform to ban channels spreading election misinformation.
    If you're tired of censorship, cancel culture, and the erosion of civil liberties subscribe to Reclaim The Net.    YouTube has suspended One America News Network (OANN) from uploading and live streaming for a week, demonetized its channel, and given it a strike for posting a video that violated YouTube’s strict “COVID-19 misinformation” rules.
    OANN is one of the only news outlets, if not the only one, that reports real news.    They have been critical in the post election war of disinformation, lies, and coverup.    What recourse do decent, freedom-loving peoples have?

2/18/2022 U.S. Coast Guard Seizes $1B Worth Of Narcotics Off The Coast Of Colombia by OAN Newsroom
Men attach palettes loaded with bundles of seized cocaine and marijuana to a crane, as he U.S. Coast Guard unloads more than
one billion dollars worth of seized drugs from the Coast Guard Cutter James at Port Everglades, Thursday, Feb. 17,
2022, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Coast Guard said the haul included approximately 54,500 pounds of cocaine and 15,800
pounds of marijuana from multiple interdictions in the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
    The U.S. Coast Guard seized more than $1 billion worth of narcotics off the coast of Colombia.    On Thursday, a vessel offloaded more than 66,000 pounds of cocaine and marijuana destined for the U.S. Officials say this was the biggest haul of narcotics in recent history.
    Dr. Rahul Gupta, head of the White House National Drug Control Policy, said the key to stopping drug traffickers is to go after the profits they would have made. He praised the coast guard’s efforts in reducing the amount of cocaine accessible to individuals.
    This comes as the United States loses one person every five seconds due to drug abuse.    Dr. Gupta is confident the narcotics seized will be disposed of and not make it into communities.
    Meanwhile, Coast Guard officials said the bust indicates a surge of the drug coming from Colombia, the worlds largest cocaine producer.    The seizure stopped a significant pathway to transnational criminal networks which could result in human trafficking, weapons violations and political corruption.
    Captain Todd Vance commanding officer of the USCGC James commended the crew for intercepting the flow of over 30 metric tons of illegal narcotics over seas.    He said the number of transnational criminal activity and the movement of cocaine would be higher if it weren’t for the Coast Guard’s tireless efforts to stop ships from making it to land.
    The Coast Guard has enhanced its arsenal to combat smugglers, utilizing drones and special cameras to detect heat from vessels carrying cocaine.

2/18/2022 Fla. House Passes Bill Barring Abortions Past 15 Weeks by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Members of the Florida House of Representatives convene during a legislative session April 30, 2021, at the
Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. Republicans in the Florida House have approved a ban on abortions after 15 weeks,
moving to tighten access to the procedure ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could limit abortion rights in America. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
    The Florida House of Representatives voted to pass a bill further restricting abortion access for women in the Sunshine State.    The Republican-controlled House passed the measure with overwhelming support early Thursday morning, ruling over Democrats who argued the bill would impose an ”unnecessary burden” on Florida women.
    Republicans touted the bill as “protection for the unborn” while admitting that it runs counter to the protections given under Roe v. Wade.    However, the GOP lawmakers noted the bill would set Florida in line with federal regulations should the Supreme Court overturn the monumental case.    They asserted current federal abortion laws show how much Americans have devalued human life.
    “Abortion strikes at the core of everything that is wrong with our communities in our country today because we have devalued human life to such an extent that we should not be surprised about the outcomes that we see and the failures that we face every day in our communities,” stated State Rep. Erin Grall (R-Fla.) “With that, I’d ask for your favorable support.”
    The bill mirrors a similar six-week measure passed in Texas as well as one passed in Mississippi in 2018, which is now under review following an appeal by the Supreme Court.    While no exceptions for rape, incest or human trafficking were explicitly named in the measure, lawmakers noted abortions would be permitted in the case having the baby would endanger the mother’s life, well-being or if the baby had a fatal abnormality.
    During the hours-long deliberation in the House, lawmakers expressed their deep-rooted beliefs surrounding abortion, including the tragedy that many aborted children could havve grown into key pieces of today’s society.
    “One of the greatest tragedies of abortion is that we will never know who we aborted,” said State Rep. Dana Trabulsy (R-Fla.).    “Perhaps it was the next Mozart.    Maybe it was the next Martin Luther King.    The next Benjamin Franklin, or maybe it was someone like you and I.    A state legislator, a housekeeper, a carpenter or a rabbi.    We’ll never know because we never gave them a chance and that chance is a chance that everyone deserves.”
    According to 2021 reports, abortions past 15 weeks account for around 3.5 percent of all abortions performed in Florida.    Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has previously signaled his support for such a measure, which now heads to the GOP controlled state Senate for a vote.    Under the current law, abortions are permitted up to 24 weeks into pregnancy.    Should the new measure get passed, it will reportedly go into effect July 1.

2/18/2022 Clinton Suggests Durham Report A ‘Wild Conspiracy Theory’ by OAN Newsroom
Hillary Clinton speaks at the New York State Democratic Convention. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
    Hillary Clinton spoke at the New York State Democratic Convention after the Durham probe found evidence she spied on Donald Trump in an attempt to connect his campaign with Russia.
    On Thursday, Clinton repeated false claims about January 6 protests and accused Republicans of “inciting violence.”    She then claimed the report by Special Counsel John Durham is a “wild conspiracy theory.”
    The former secretary of state also said that New York and the U.S. as a whole need “better leadership” while highlighting high inflation as well as lost businesses.    Her comments fuel the latest speculation of a possible presidential run in 2024.
    Clinton was reportedly met with scores of protesters outside the venue who criticized her past policy failures such as Benghazi.

2/18/2022 Oil down $0.57 to $91.09, DOW down 117 to 34,195.

2/19/2022 Canadian police arrest 70 protesters in Ottawa - Trucks being towed, voluntarily driven away by Rob Gillies, Wilson Ring and Robert Bumsted, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    OTTAWA, Ontario – Police in Canada say they have arrested at least 70 people and made progress in clearing out truckers who have paralyzed Ottawa for three weeks in a protest against the country’s COVID-19 restrictions.
    Hundreds of police moved into the capital’s downtown Friday morning and began taking protesters into custody and towing away big rigs blocking the streets.    Many truckers left on their own.
    Interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell says police are continuing to try to take control the streets and will work around the clock until that happens.
    Bell says there has been one minor injury to an officer, and no protesters have been hurt.
    The protesters in Ottawa are part of a movement that has staged blockades along the U.S. border and caused economic harm to both countries.
    Police began arresting demonstrators and towing away vehicles Friday in Canada’s besieged capital, and a stream of trucks soon began leaving under the pressure, raising authorities’ hopes for an end to the threeweek protest against the country’s COVID-19 restrictions.
    The crackdown on the self-styled Freedom Convoy began in the morning, when hundreds of police, some in riot gear and some carrying automatic weapons, descended into the protest zone and began leading demonstrators away in handcuffs through the snowy streets as holdout truckers blared their horns.
    Tow truck operators – wearing neongreen ski masks, with their companies’ decals taped over on their trucks to conceal their identities – arrived under police escort and started removing the hundreds of big rigs, campers and other vehicles parked shoulder to shoulder near Parliament.    Police smashed through the door of at least one RV camper before hauling it away.
    Scuffles broke out in places, and police repeatedly went nose-to-nose with the protesters and pushed the crowd back amid cries of “Freedom!” and the singing of the national anthem, “O Canada.”
    Many protesters stood their ground as the crackdown unfolded.
    “Freedom was never free,” said trucker Kevin Homaund, of Montreal.    “So what if they put the handcuffs on us and they put us in jail?
    But a steady procession of trucks began leaving Parliament Hill in the afternoon as lines of officers pushed through the streets.
    “There are indications we are now starting to see progress,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said.
    Hours into the show of force, authorities said 21 people had been arrested and roughly two dozen vehicles had been towed, including all of those blocking one of city’s major streets.
    There was no immediate word of any injuries in one of the biggest police enforcement actions in Canada’s history, with officers drawn from around the country.
    Authorities had hesitated to move against the protests, in part because of the fear of violence.
Mounted units form a line as police work to bring a protest to an end

2/19/2022 Clinton lawyer seeks indictment dismissal - Sussmann was charged with misleading the FBI by Eric Tucker, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – A lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign who was charged by special counsel John Durham with lying to the FBI during a 2016 meeting asked a judge on Thursday to dismiss the indictment, calling it a case of 'extraordinary prosecutorial overreach.'
    Lawyers for Michael Sussmann said that if the indictment were allowed to proceed, it would 'risk criminalizing ordinary conduct, raise First Amendment concerns, dissuade honest citizens from coming forward with tips, and chill the advocacy of lawyers who interact with the government.'
    Durham was tasked in 2019 by then-Attorney General William Barr with investigating potential government misconduct during the early days of the investigation into potential coordination between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.    He was given the title of special counsel in 2020, in the final weeks of the Trump administration, to ensure that he could continue his work once Joe Biden became president.
    Sussmann is accused of lying to the FBI’s then-general counsel during a September 2016 meeting in which he relayed concerns from cybersecurity researchers about potentially suspicious internet data involving a Russia-based bank and the Trump Organization. Prosecutors say Sussmann misled the FBI by saying during the meeting that he was not acting on behalf of a particular client when he was actually representing the interests of the Clinton campaign and a technology executive who had furnished Sussmann with the data and analysis.
    The FBI investigated and ruled out within months the possibility of a secret digital back channel between servers of the Trump Organization and of Russia-based Alfa Bank – a claim that, if true, could have signaled contact between the Trump orbit and Russia at a time when the FBI was already trying to determine if there was such a connection.    The indictment does not charge Sussmann with giving the FBI false information about that matter, but rather about what his lawyers dismissively described as an 'ancillary' issue – who his legal clients were at the time of the meeting.
    Sussmann’s lawyers say allowing the indictment to stand would mean that people could be prosecuted for giving an accurate tip to law enforcement if they weren’t upfront about their motivation for doing so.
    'If would-be tipsters or sources fear that an incomplete disclosure will subject them to criminal liability, the FBI would be seriously weakened in its ability to gather information from the public, and recruit and maintain confidential human sources,' the motion states.
    The motion to dismiss comes just days after a filing by Durham that created an uproar and was mischaracterized in some media reports – and by Trump himself – as having suggested that the former president had been illegally spied on by allies of the Clinton campaign, even though that was not what the document said.
    The filing said the company of the tech executive with whom Sussmann had worked, Rodney Joffe, had helped maintain servers for the White House and said he and cybersecurity researchers he was working with had mined internet traffic for the 'purpose of gathering derogatory information' about Trump.
    A spokesman for Joffe said he was an 'apolitical internet security expert' who had never worked for a political party and was operating under a contract to identify potential cyberbreaches or threats against the federal government.

2/19/2022 No Oil or DOW info.

2/20/2022 Canada’s Capital Starts Cleanup After Weeks-Long Protest by Lars Hagberg and Kyaw Soe Oo
Canadian police officers stand guard as they work to restore normality to the capital while trucks
and demonstrators continue to occupy the downtown core for more than three weeks to protest
against pandemic restrictions in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 19, 2022. REUTERS/Blair Gable
    OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police on Sunday smashed the windows of vehicles abandoned in the downtown core of the capital to tow them away, and city workers cleaned up trash after two days of tense standoffs and 170 arrests ended a three-week occupation of Ottawa.
    Demonstrators had used hundreds of trucks and vehicles to block the city since Jan. 28, prompting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to invoke rarely used emergency powers.
    There were a few stragglers on Sunday packing up a logistics depot the so-called “Freedom Convoy” had set up in a parking lot near the highway to supply the protesters camped out in the city center.
    “We were running support for the convoy and the people in the downtown core – food, fuel, basic necessities,” said Winton Marchant, a retired firefighter from Windsor, Ontario.    “This was the base camp and we are cleaning up.”
    The protesters initially wanted an end to cross-border COVID-19 vaccine mandates for truck drivers, but the blockade turned into a demonstration against Trudeau and the government.
    On Saturday, police used pepper spray and stun grenades to move out the die-hard protesters who remained, clearing most of the area in front of parliament.    Others abandoned their positions in other parts of the downtown area during the night.
    “We continue to maintain a police presence in and around the area the unlawful protest occupied.    We are using fences to ensure the ground gained back is not lost,” police said on Twitter.
    For the first time in weeks, there was only snow and silence downtown.    The trucks blaring their horns were gone.    One resident said he felt relief.
    “We seem to have gotten over the hump,” Ottawa resident Tim Abray told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.    But Abray, a communications consultant, said the political division will not go away so easily.
    Several TV reporters were harassed, insulted, threatened and even pushed by protesters, both in Ottawa and in British Columbia, where a group shut down a border crossing south of Vancouver on Saturday.
    Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne condemned the treatment of journalists on Twitter, calling it “profoundly disturbing.”
    Trudeau on Monday invoked emergency powers to give his government wider authority to stop the protests, including sweeping powers to freeze the accounts of those suspected of supporting the blockades, without obtaining a court order.
    Parliament continued debate over the use of the emergency powers on Sunday, with a required vote and expected passage of the powers due on Monday.
(Reporting by Lars Hagberg and Kyaw Soe Oo in Ottawa; Additional reporting by Carlos Osorio in Ottawa; Writing by Steve Scherer; Editing by Richard Chang and Mark Porter)

2/20/2022 Passenger Found Alive On Greece-Italy Ferry After Blaze, 11 Still Missing by Lefteris Papadimas
Smoke rises from the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia, which sailed from Greece to Italy early on Friday
and caught fire, off the coast of Corfu, Greece, February 19, 2022. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
    CORFU, Greece (Reuters) -Fire fighters battling a blaze on a ferry sailing from Greece to Italy discovered a survivor on the stern of the still burning vessel on Sunday, the Greek coast guard said, reviving hopes that other missing passengers could still be found alive.
    Rescuers managed to take at least 281 out of 292 passengers and crew to safety after the blaze broke out on the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia early on Friday, but 11 people are still missing, according to the coast guard and ferry operator.
    Firefighters have been trying for days to contain the fire and cool scorching temperatures on the 183-metre (600 ft) ship to allow emergency crews to board and rescue any survivors.    The authorities have not announced a death toll.
    “Firefighters are still battling the fire and crews are searching for more people,” the fire brigade said.
    The cause of the blaze is still being investigated and a prosecutor has launched an inquiry, according to coast guard officials.
    The ferry had been on its way to the Italian port of Brindisi from Igoumenitsa in Greece.    Many of the passengers were truck owners or drivers transporting goods through Europe.
    The man rescued on Sunday was from Belarus, according to the coast guard, while those still missing are Bulgarian, Turkish and Greek nationals.
    Reuters footage showed rescuers climbing up a stepladder to the vessel after a tug boat towed it closer to the shore.
    “Since one person is rescued, we are optimistic that more survivors can be found,” Greek coastguard spokesman Nikos Alexiou told Skai TV.
    Aerial footage released by the Greek coastguard on Friday showed rows of burnt trucks on the blackened deck after flames engulfed the ship.    The ferry was carrying 153 vehicles, the company said.
    A group of truck drivers who survived the ordeal arrived back in Bulgaria in the early hours of Sunday.
    “Once we were in the boats we saw the huge flames. Everything burned, the losses are big, but I am glad we are alive and we will see our families,” truck driver Rumen Cholakov told Bulgarian Nova TV.
(Additional reporting by Stamos Prousalis in Corfu, Angeliki Koutantou in Athens and Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia; Writing by Renee Maltezou;Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

2/20/2022 Firefighters Struggle To Douse Fire On Luxury Cars Vessel Off Azores Islands
FILE PHOTO: The ship, Felicity Ace, which was traveling from Emden, Germany, where Volkswagen has
a factory, to Davisville, in the U.S. state of Rhode Island, burns more than 100 km from the Azores islands,
Portugal, February 18, 2022. Portuguese Navy (Marinha Portuguesa)/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo
    LISBON (Reuters) – Firefighters are struggling to put out a fire that broke out on Wednesday on a vessel carrying thousands of luxury cars, which is adrift off the coast of Portugal’s Azores islands, a port official said, adding it was unclear when they would succeed.
    The Felicity Ace ship, carrying around 4,000 vehicles including Porsches, Audis and Bentleys, some electric with lithium-ion batteries, caught fire in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday.    The 22 crew members on board were evacuated on the same day.
    “The intervention (to put out the blaze) has to be done very slowly,” João Mendes Cabeças, captain of the nearest port in the Azorean island of Faial, told Reuters late on Saturday.    “It will take a while.”
    Lithium-ion batteries in the electric vehicles on board are “keeping the fire alive,” Cabeças said, adding that specialist equipment to extinguish it was on the way.
    It was not clear whether the batteries sparked the fire.
    Volkswagen, which owns the brands, did not confirm the total number of cars on board and said on Friday it was awaiting further information.    Ship manager Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
    Cabeças previously said that “everything was on fire about five meters above the water line” and the blaze was still far from the ship’s fuel tanks.    It is getting closer, he said.
    “The fire spread further down,” he said, explaining that teams could only tackle the fire from outside by cooling down the ship’s structure as it was too dangerous to go on board.
    They also cannot use water because adding weight to the ship could make it more unstable, and traditional water extinguishers do not stop lithium-ion batteries from burning, Cabeças said.
    The Panama-flagged ship will be towed to a country in Europe or to the Bahamas but it is unclear when that will happen.
(Reporting by Catarina Demony in Lisbon; Additional reporting by Victoria Waldersee in Berlin; Editing by Barbara Lewis)

2/20/2022 Blinken Says All Signs Suggest Russia On The Brink Of Invading Ukraine by Humeyra Pamuk
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reacts after posing for a group picture during a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of
the G7 Nations at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, Germany February 19, 2022. Ina Fassbender/Pool via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - All signs suggest Russia is on the brink of invading Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday, but still vowed that Washington would use every opportunity until the last minute to see if diplomacy would dissuade Moscow from going ahead.
    Speaking on broadcaster CNN’s “State of the Union” show, Blinken maintained Washington’s position that the deterrent impact of sanctions would be lost if they are triggered before an invasion despite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s passionate plea on Saturday to unleash them.
    “Everything we are seeing suggests that this is dead serious, that we are on the brink of an invasion.    We will do everything we can to try to prevent it before it happens,” Blinken said, adding that the West was equally prepared if Moscow invades.
    “Until the tanks are actually rolling, and the planes are flying, we will use every opportunity and every minute we have to see if diplomacy can still dissuade President (Vladimir) Putin from carrying this forward,” he said.
    Blinken said his planned meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was still set to proceed next week as long as Moscow did not go ahead with the invasion.
    President Joe Biden was also prepared to engage with Putin “at any time, in any format if that can help prevent a war,” Blinken added.
    Western leaders have been warning of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, estimating that more than 150,000 Russian troops have encircled the country.
    Earlier, the Belarus defence minister said his country and Russia were extending military drills that were due to end on Sunday.
    The decision to extend the drills was made because of military activity near the borders of Russia and Belarus and an escalation of the situation in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, the Belarusian defence ministry said in a statement.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Chris Gallagher; Editing by Mark Porter)

2/20/2022 No Oil or DOW info.

Biden's threats are weak and nothing happens but for 13 months now everything he has tried to do has failed
as his administration is alarming like the car above with a 37% approval tells the whole story

And of course he has a son named Hunter who is a crack head on camera and its a shame that the president of the U.S. would promote what is in the image above.

Another policy blunder caused all prices rising causing American families to lose more of their budgets affecting them to pass on vacations and other purchases which will cause stock markets begin to fall.

And at the same time Biden's choice to be the one to make sure the unload of ships at ports was too busy to resolve the backlog to get inland to the stores and food facilities another screw up.

As you see above Hillary got a big surprise that she has been busted by Durham busters.

If you did not believe that the FAKE NEWS and NPR has been corrupt and not giving America the real news in the image below you can see
they were not prepared to answer it since this is a prosecutor who is hard at work and getting it done now
and it took them 3 days to come up with a spin to deny it but the facts are there and he is only getting started and the culprits who are part of it.

So as you see above is Jake Sullivan who is now Joe Bidens National Security Advisor which is proof if those
who do criminal activity during the Obama administration transition that they pay you back with top jobs

So the Hillary Clinton has spied on the Trump administrtion before his transition and even after he was in the White House
and had the FBI involved in the cover up of her missing computer, and eventually used illegal FISA surveillance
to spy on any one associated with Trump's administration and the below three images is what Durham found to prosecute

Of course she is using the FAKE NEWS to try her previous attemp to try ot cover it up

But as you see in the image above the public has caught onto the corruption and scream "LOCK HER UP"

As you see below as well a Hillary Clinton, who had the following Jake Sullivan, Michael Sussmann, Rodney Joffe and Marc Elias and I suspect that there is a whole list will be added to this before it is over

2/21/2022 Biden Agrees In Principle To Ukraine Summit With Putin
A helicopter flies over troops during the joint military drills of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at
a firing range in the Brest Region, Belarus February 19, 2022. Vadim Yakubyonok/Belta/Handout via REUTERS
    (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed in principle to a summit over Ukraine, the French leader said on Monday, offering a possible path out of one of the most dangerous European crises in decades.
    Financial markets edged higher on the glimmer of hope for a diplomatic solution even as satellite imagery appeared to show Russian deployments closer to Ukraine’s border, while sounds of fighting were heard on Monday in the east, where Ukrainian government forces are fighting pro-Russian separatists.
    The office of French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement he had pitched to both leaders a summit on “security and strategic stability in Europe.”    In a statement, the White House said Biden had accepted the meeting “in principle” but only “if an invasion hasn’t happened.”
    “We are always ready for diplomacy,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.    “We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences, should Russia instead choose war.”
    Messages seeking comment from the Kremlin and the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy were not immediately returned early on Monday.
    Few details of the proposed summit, announced after a volley of phone calls between Macron, Biden, Putin, Zelenskiy, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, are clear.
    Macron’s office and the White House said the substance of the plan would be worked out by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during their meeting planned for Feb. 24.
    What role Ukraine would play in the summit, if any, was also uncertain.
    A Biden administration official said in an email that the summit was “completely notional” as the timing and format had yet to be determined.
    EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said there was a pressing need for talks to avoid war, while Germany said Russia should come back to the negotiating table.
    While oil prices fell, Asian share markets pared losses and Wall Street futures rallied on news of the possible summit, Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, said he was sceptical it would happen.
    “But if Biden and Putin did meet, they should invite (Zelenskiy) to join,” he said in a message posted on Twitter.     News of Macron’s proposal comes after a week of heightened tension spurred by Russia’s military buildup.
    Russian forces have been massing around its neighbour since late last year, in what Western countries say is a prelude to an invasion that could come at any moment.
    Russia denies any intention to invade, but nerves were further frayed when the Belarusian defence ministry announced that Russia would extend military drills in Belarus that had been due to end on Sunday.
    U.S.-based satellite imagery company Maxar reported multiple new deployments of Russian military units in forests, farms, and industrial areas as little as 15 km (9 miles) from the border with Ukraine.
    On Sunday, Blinken said the extension of the exercises in Belarus, bordering Ukraine to the north, made him more worried that Russia was on the brink of an attack and every opportunity had to be taken to get diplomacy to work.
    Belarus said Russian troops would go home from the exercises when there was “an objective need” to do so, the Interfax news agency said.
    In a letter to U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, seen by Reuters, the United States raised concern that “further Russian invasion of Ukraine may create a human rights catastrophe,” including the possible rounding up and killing of opponents.
    Sporadic shelling across the line dividing Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in the east has intensified since Thursday.
    Sounds of fighting were heard again on Monday, including a blast in the centre of the separatist-held city of Donetsk. The cause was not known.
    The rebels said two civilians were killed in shelling by Kyiv government forces, Russia’s RIA news agency said.    Russian media reported 61,000 evacuees from east Ukraine had crossed into Russia.
    Kyiv has accused pro-Russian forces of shelling their own compatriots in the breakaway region in order to blame the attacks on Ukrainian government forces.
    Western countries are preparing sanctions they say would be wide-reaching against Russian companies and individuals in case of an invasion, including steps to bar U.S. financial institutions from processing transactions for major Russian banks, people familiar with the matter said.
    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the BBC such measures could include curbs on Russian businesses’ access to the dollar and the pound.
    European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told German broadcaster ARD that Russia “would in principle be cut off from the international financial markets” and from major European exports.
    Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said it was time for the West to impose at least part of the sanctions it has prepared, but the Biden administration has declined to do so, saying their deterrent effect would be lost if used too soon.
(Reporting by Reuters bureaux; Writing by Raphael Satter and Stephen Coates; Editing by Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez)

2/21/2022 Millions Of Americans Observe Presidents’ Day by OAN Newsroom
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR PARAMOUNT MIAMI WORLDCENTER – The world’s tallest L.E.D. “Happy Presidents’ Day” greeting
lights-up the 60-story Paramount Miami Worldcenter in observance of the 29th annual holiday honoring America’s 46 commanders-in-chief.
The $600-million, 700-foot-tall Paramount Miami tower features the world’s largest electronic stars and stripes salute,
paired with 300-foot by 100-foot mammoth digital busts of Presidents Washington and Lincoln and an animated image of Uncle Sam
ignite “Magic City” skyline on February 20, 2022 in downtown Miami. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/AP Images for Paramount Miami Worldcenter)
    The nation observes President’s Day on February 20. The history of George Washington’s birthday, much like the nation, goes back hundreds of years and has a complex history.
    The holiday has its roots in the late 1870s when Arkansas Sen. Steven Wallace Dorsey, a Republican, proposed making George Washington’s birthday a bank holiday.    The bill was a popular one and was signed into law by then-President Rutherford B. Hayes on January 31 1879.
    President’s Day became the first federal holiday to recognize an individual’s birth date, which was an honor held until Martin Luther King Jr. Day was instituted.    It was also the only holiday other than Christmas to be celebrated by every single state.
    However, the holiday, which fell on Washington’s birthday of February 22, did not remain untouched.    In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the uniform holiday bill into law, shifting the dates of many federal holidays to give Americans more three-day weekends over the year.    Among them was Washington’s birthday, which was then and now observed on the third Monday in February.
    While a provision recognizing other presidents such as Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson was overturned in Congress, the idea stuck and the holiday became informally known as President’s Day.    The day is celebrated in different fashions by Americans from historical reenactments to car and mattress sales.
    However, as President George W. Bush remarked on what would have been Washington’s 275th birthday, the legacy of the first U.S. president lasts even today.

2/21/2022 Herschel Walker: A Lot Is On The Line For Ga. Senate Race by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks during former President
Donald Trump’s Save America rally in Perry, Ga., on Sept. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Ben Gray, File)
    Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker recently emphasized the impact Georgia’s Senate race will have on the country.    During an exclusive interview on Saturday, the Donald Trump endorsed candidate said the balance of power in the Senate hangs on who wins the seat.
    “There’s a lot on the line now; whoever could take over this Senate race here in Georgia between — I know it’s going to be myself against Sen. Warnock — can get control of the Senate,” Walker explained.    “And right now everybody sees they’re doing is not working for the United States and it’s not working for Georgia.    So we want to take that Senate back and get people back to work, and get kids back to school where people are not trying to indoctrinate kids.”
    Over the course of the interview, Walker was asked about hot button issues like inflation and rising gas prices.    In response, he blasted Joe Biden for going against his campaign promise of keeping the nation energy dependent by not shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline.
    “One of the things people got to remember is that as soon as Biden took office, he went against something he told everyone that he would not do and that was with the pipeline,” said Walker.    “You know one of the things he said he would not do is get rid of the pipeline.    As soon as he got into office, that was the first thing he did.”
    Walker concluded by criticizing politicians who described him as being more reactive than proactive.    The Republican candidate said those politicians don’t do their jobs and are, instead, more worried about getting re-elected.
    “They have to be willing to come up with bright ideas, to be proactive rather than reactive,” he explained.    “I think that’s a whole problem right now.    We have people who come into office that have all these bright ideas when they’re trying to get elected, but after they get elected now they’re worrying getting elected at their next term so they’re not doing their job.”
    Meanwhile, Walker said he’s ready to fight for the Peach State as Senate elections kick off in November.
Breitbart · Herschel Walker – February 19, 2022.

2/21/2022 San Francisco Mayor On Board Recall: We Failed Our Children by OAN Newsroom
San Francisco Mayor London Breed listens during a news conference
Oct. 2, 2018, in San Francisco. (Eric Risberg / AP Photo)
    Following a recall of three members on San Francisco’s School Board, the city’s mayor said they failed it’s children and became distracted by politics.    During an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Mayor London Breed said the board members were not doing their fundamental job.
    “In this particular case, the board neglected their primary responsibility to focus on other things,” she stated.    “Other things that are important, but not as significant as what they were there to do and that is to educate children…parents were upset, the city as a whole was upset and the decision to recall school board members was a result of that.”
    The recall effort came amid controversy regarding extended coronavirus shutdowns of schools and the board members’ attempts to rename 44 schools they said honored figures promoting racism, including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln among several other progressive policies.
    “They are so egregiously incompetent so we need to get them out now and we have the voters have spoken,” said recall supporter Paulina Fayer.
    Former School Board President Gabriela Lopez previously blamed white supremacy for her losing her post while claiming she was punished for fighting for racial justice.
    However, the Democrat mayor said they have failed the city’s children. Breed highlighted this is not a political issue, but an issue about education.    She added, at the end of the day kids were not in school when they should have been.
    “I’m going to be looking for people that are going to focus on the priorities of the school district and not on politics, and not on what it means to run for office and stepping stones,” Breed explained.    “And so on and so forth. We need people who want to be on the school board to make a difference and who meet those qualifications to do the job.”
    Breed said the fundamental problem is getting kids back into the classroom and the board members were focusing on other matters that were clearly a distraction.

2/21/2022 Sen. Cruz Discusses Biden’s Supreme Court Pick, Durham Findings by OAN Newsroom
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, followed by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., leaves a policy luncheon,
Thursday, Feb., 17, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) recently called out Joe Biden for limiting his Supreme Court pick to a black woman.    During an interview Sunday, the Texas lawmaker said Biden’s announcement to appoint a black woman for the slot is “discriminating based on race.”
    The Republican added, Democrats today believe in racial discrimination and they are committed to it as a political proposition.
    He went on to say, he thinks the country has a troubled history with race and suggested the Biden administration move past racial discrimination.
    Meanwhile, Cruz also commented on the findings of the Durham probe while suggesting it could unveil the biggest political scandal in the nation’s history.    The Texas senator stressed if the allegations prove to be true, the Clinton campaign would have coordinated a worse scandal than Watergate, which brought down former President Richard Nixon.
    More than a week ago, Special Counsel John Durham claimed several Clinton operatives conspired to spy on Trump’s 2016 campaign while he was the sitting president.    Cruz demanded those who committed the crime be brought to justice.

2/21/2022 Oil up $1.70 to $92.79, DOW down 232 to 34,079.

2/22/2022 Explainer-How Western Sanctions Might Target Russia by Karin Strohecker
A tank drives along a street after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of Russian troops
to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine following the recognition of their independence,
in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine February 22, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
    (Reuters) – The United States and its allies are coordinating new financial and economic sanctions on Russia after Moscow recognised two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent entities, officials said.
    President Vladimir Putin also signed a decree on the deployment of Russian troops to the breakaway regions.    But White House officials said that because Russia already had troops in the regions, Moscow’s moves did not trigger a broad package of sanctions which Washington and its allies have been working on in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
    The White House announced separate, less severe and more targeted sanctions.    European Union member states are also considering possible sanctions.
    Russia has been under Western sanctions since its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.    More punitive measures were added after a former Russian spy was poisoned in Britain in 2018 – Russia denied any involvement – and following an investigation into allegations, denied by Moscow, of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election won by Donald Trump.
    Here are some ways sanctions could target Russia:
    Some smaller Russian state-owned banks are already under sanctions: Washington imposed curbs on Bank Rossiya in 2014 for its close ties to Kremlin officials.
    According to sources, the Biden administration has prepared a sweeping measure to hurt the Russian economy which would cut the “correspondent” banking relationships between targeted Russian banks and U.S. banks that enable international payments.
    Washington also will wield its most powerful sanctioning tool against certain Russian individuals and companies by placing them on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list, effectively kicking them out of the U.S. banking system, banning their trade with Americans and freezing their U.S. assets.
    Sources familiar with the planned measures said VTB Bank, Sberbank, VEB, and Gazprombank are possible targets.    It is unclear whether Russian banks would be added to the SDN list, but both types of sanctions could hit Russia hard and make it difficult to transact in U.S. dollars.
    Russia’s large banks are deeply integrated into the global financial system, meaning sanctions could be felt far beyond its borders.    Data from the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) shows that European lenders hold the lion’s share of the nearly $30 billion in foreign banks’ exposure to Russia.
    According to data from Russia’s central bank, total Russian banking foreign assets and liabilities stood at $200.6 billion and $134.5 billion respectively with the U.S. dollar share amounting to around 53% of both, down from 76-81% two decades ago.
    Britain threatened last week to block Russian companies from raising capital in London, Europe’s financial centre for such transactions, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying the government would target Russian banks and Russian companies.
    Sanctioning persons via asset freezes and travel bans is a commonly used tool and the United States, the EU and Britain already have such sanctions in place against a number of Russian individuals.
    The EU on Monday imposed sanctions on five people who were involved in a Russian parliamentary election in annexed Crimea in September 2021.
    While the United States has used the SDN designation to sanction oligarchs deemed to be “bad actors” in the past, it has become more cautious in recent years after 2018 sanctions on the owner of Rusal saw aluminium prices skyrocket and force Washington to backtrack.
    A bill unveiled by U.S. Senate Democrats in January aims for sweeping sanctions against top Russian government and military officials, including Putin, and President Joe Biden has said he would be ready to consider personal sanctions on the Russian president.     Moscow has said any move to impose sanctions on Putin himself would not harm the Russian president personally but would prove “politically destructive.”
    Britain – home to many wealthy Russians – has threatened to expose property and company ownership on its soil if Russia invades Ukraine, with Johnson saying there was “an issue with Russian money in the city (of London).”
    The White House has told the U.S. chip industry to be ready for new restrictions on exports to Russia if Moscow attacks Ukraine, including potentially blocking Russia’s access to global electronics supplies.
    Similar measures were deployed during the Cold War, when technology sanctions kept the Soviet Union technologically backward and crimped economic growth.
    The United States and the EU already have sanctions in place on Russia’s energy and defence sectors, with state-owned gas company Gazprom, its oil arm Gazpromneft and oil producers Lukoil, Rosneft and Surgutneftegaz facing various types of curbs on exports/imports and debt-raising.
    Sanctions could be widened and deepened, with one possible option being to prevent companies settling in U.S. dollars.
    Nord Stream 2, a recently completed pipeline from Russia to Germany that has yet to win regulatory approval, would also be subject to sanctions by the European Union, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said.
    Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies weakens the West’s hand when considering sanctions in this sector.
    One of the harshest measures would be to disconnect the Russian financial system from SWIFT, which handles international financial transfers and is used by more than 11,000 financial institutions in over 200 countries.
    In 2012, SWIFT disconnected Iranian banks as international sanctions tightened against Tehran over its nuclear programme.    Iran lost half its oil export revenues and 30% of foreign trade, the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank said.
    Among Western countries, the United States and Germany would stand to lose the most from such a move, as their banks are the most frequent SWIFT users with Russian banks, said Maria Shagina at the Carnegie Moscow Center.
    Calls to cut Russia’s SWIFT access were mooted in 2014 when Moscow annexed Crimea, prompting Moscow to develop an alternative messaging system, SPFS.
The number of messages sent via SPFS was about one fifth of Russian internal traffic in 2020, according to the central bank, which aims to increase this to 30% in 2023. However, SPFS has struggled to establish itself in international transactions.
    Access to Russian bonds has become increasingly restricted and sanctions could be tightened further, with a ban on secondary market trading of both new Eurobond and new Russian rouble bonds known as OFZs floated as an option.
    In April 2021, Biden barred U.S. investors from buying new Russian rouble bonds over the accusations of election meddling.
    Sanctions imposed in 2015 made future Russian dollar debt ineligible for many investors and key indexes.    Those measures have cut Russia’s external debt by 33% since early 2014 — from $733 billion to $489 billion in the third quarter of 2021.    Lower debt improves a country’s balance sheet on the surface, but deprives it of financing sources that could contribute to economic growth and development.
(Reporting by Karin Strohecker in London, Katya Golubkova and Andrey Ostroukh in Moscow; Editing by Raissa Kasalowsky and Timothy Heritage)

2/22/2022 Quotes: West Rails Against Russian Moves In Ukraine, Calls For Sanctions
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during the annual Munich Security
Conference, in Munich, Germany February 19, 2022. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert
    (Reuters) – Western nations criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to order the deployment of troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine after recognising them as independent on Monday.
    For a selection of quotes from Putin’s speech, click
    Here are quotes from world leaders in reaction to Russia’s actions.
    “We are committed to the peaceful and diplomatic path, we will follow it and only it.    But we are on our own land, we are not afraid of anything and anybody, we owe nothing to no one, and we will give nothing to no one."
    “We expect clear and effective steps of support from our partners."
    “It is very important to see who is our real friend and partner, and who will continue to scare the Russian Federation with words.”
    “President Putin’s recognition of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” as independent states shows flagrant disregard for Russia’s commitments under the Minsk agreements.    This step … signals an end to the Minsk process."
    “It demonstrates Russia’s decision to choose a path of confrontation over dialogue.    We will coordinate our response with allies.    We will not allow Russia’s violation of its international commitments to go unpunished.”
    “We have anticipated a move like this from Russia and are ready to respond immediately."
    “President Biden will soon issue an executive order that will prohibit new investment, trade, and financing by U.S. persons to, from, or in the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine.”
    “Moscow continues to fuel the conflict in eastern Ukraine by providing financial and military support to the separatists.    It is also trying to stage a pretext to invade Ukraine once again."
    “This undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, erodes efforts towards a resolution of the conflict, and violates the Minsk Agreements, to which Russia is a party.”
    “These actions violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, violate international law and are utterly unacceptable.”
    “Canada, with its partners and allies, will react firmly to this blatant disregard for international law."
    “We are preparing to impose economic sanctions for these actions, separate from those prepared to respond to any further military invasion of Ukraine by Russia.”
    “The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine must be respected.    We must actively seek a peaceful solution through dialogue."
    “It is never desirable for the Ukraine crisis to deteriorate into an armed conflict, which runs counter to the expectations of the international community."
    “It would have a huge political and economic impact, not only in Europe, but also around the world.”
    “The Australian government condemns President Putin’s declaration today that the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine are independent states."
    “This flagrantly undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and has no validity under international law."
    “We also condemn President Putin’s announcement that Russia is deploying so-called ‘peacekeepers’ to eastern Ukraine.    These personnel are not peacekeepers."
    “The Australian government is coordinating closely with the United States, United Kingdom, European Union and other governments around the world to ensure there are severe costs for Russia’s aggression."
    “Along with our partners, we are prepared to announce swift and severe sanctions that would target key Russian individuals and entities responsible for undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
    “All parties concerned must exercise restraint, and avoid any action that may fuel tensions.”
    “Multilateralism lies on its deathbed tonight.”
    “The decision of Russia to recognise the Donetsk and Luhansk Republics amounts to a clear violation of not only the Minsk agreements, but also Ukraine’s political unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity."
    “We find Russia’s so-called decision to be unacceptable and reject it.”
(Complied by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

2/22/2022 U.S. To Announce Sanctions Against Russia Tuesday In Coordination With Allies by Jeff Mason and Michelle Nichols
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks as United Nations Security Council meets after Russia recognized two
breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent entities, in New York City, U.S. February 21, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
    WASHINGTON/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United States is coordinating with allies and will announce new sanctions against Russia on Tuesday after Moscow recognized two breakaway regions of Ukraine as independent and sent “peacekeeping” forces there, U.S. officials said on Monday.
    “Tomorrow, the United States will impose sanctions on Russia for this clear violation of international law and Ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told reporters after a U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday evening.
    “We can, will, and must stand united in our calls for Russia to withdraw its forces, return to the diplomatic table and work toward peace.”
    Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday recognized two breakaway regions of Ukraine as independent and told Russia’s defense ministry to deploy troops into the two regions to “keep the peace,” heightening tension with the West over Ukraine.
    Biden administration officials said Putin’s move did not trigger a broad package of sanctions that the United States and its allies have been working on if Russia invades Ukraine because Russia already had troops in the region.
    Instead the White House announced separate, less severe and more targeted sanctions, in response.
    President Joe Biden issued an executive order that White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said would “prohibit new investment, trade, and financing by U.S. persons to, from, or in the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine,” referring to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic.
    Psaki said additional measures would come on Tuesday.    Those, according to another White House spokesperson, would be directed at Russia.
    Reuters could not determine what sanctions or export controls might be announced on Tuesday, but the Biden administration has prepared an initial package of sanctions against Russia that includes barring U.S. financial institutions from processing transactions for major Russian banks, people familiar with the matter said over the weekend.
    The measures aim to hurt the Russian economy by cutting the “correspondent” banking relationships between targeted Russian banks and U.S. banks that enable international payments.
    The United States will also wield its most powerful sanctioning tool against certain Russian individuals and companies by placing them on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list, effectively kicking them out of the U.S. banking system, banning their trade with Americans and freezing their U.S. assets, the same sources said.
    The Biden administration plans to spare everyday Russians from the brunt of U.S. export controls if Russia invades Ukraine, and focus on targeting industrial sectors, a White House official said in late January. Still, “key people” will also face “massive sanctions,” White House national security official Peter Harrell said in a speech in Massachusetts.
    Export control measures could also be announced as part of the package but would probably not have the same immediate impacts, and instead “degrade Russia’s ability to have industrial production in a couple of key sectors.”
    Harrell did not detail the sectors, but other White House officials have mentioned aviation, maritime, robotics, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and defense.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; additional reporting by Alexandra Alper and Chris Saunders; Editing by Kim Coghill and Lincoln Feast.)

2/22/2022 Biden Issues Executive Order Sanctioning Leaders, Officials Connected With Putin-Backed Separatist Regions In Ukraine by OAN Newsroom
Ukrainian National guard soldiers guard a mobile checkpoint together with the Ukrainian Security Service agents and police
officers during a joint operation in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. Fears of a new war in Europe have resurged
as U.S. President Joe Biden warned that Russia could invade Ukraine within days, and violence spiked in a long-running
standoff in eastern Ukraine that some fear could be the spark for wider conflict. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
    Joe Biden is trying to take a stand against Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Late Monday night, the White House confirmed Biden signed an executive order aiming to impose costs on Putin. The order prohibits new investments in the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk from the U.S. and also blocks U.S. goods from entering the area.
    The measure also imposes sanctions on leaders and officials operating in the Donbas region.    Meanwhile, the Treasury Department is working to get humanitarian aid to residents of Donbas and to make sure “.”
    Japan appears ready to join in on the U.S.- led sanctions on Russia.    During a briefing Tuesday, Japan said it will follow the U.S. and other G7 nations in placing sanctions on Russia should there be an invasion of Ukraine.    New sanctions by the country would include a ban on semiconductor chips and tighter restrictions on Russian banks.
    Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called on Putin to urge restraint as the crisis deepens.    During the briefing, Kishida expressed his concern over how Ukraine’s situation may affect Japan’s economy.    His remarks came after Putin ordered troops into two breakaway regions and now recognizes them as separate states.
    Putin dispatched troops to rebel-held areas in Eastern Ukraine, while referring to them as “peacekeepers.”    He signed an executive order to send Russian military to Donetsk and Luhansk after recognizing their sovereignty from Ukraine.
    Shortly after, videos circulated on social media purportedly showing convoys of Russian troops entering rebel-held areas of the Donbas region.    This comes as thousands of Donbas residents are fleeing to Russia amid reports of artillery barrages by the Ukrainian military.
    Nonetheless, Putin claims Russia’s goal is to restore peace and end bloodshed in Donetsk and Luhansk.
    “We demand from those who captured and hold the power in Kyiv to immediately end the combat activities,” he stated.    “Otherwise, all responsibility for the possible continuation of the bloodshed will be entirely on the conscience of the regime ruling the territory of Ukraine.”     According to a Washington Post survey from last month, half of respondents in the Donbas region said it did not matter where they lived, whether in Russia or Ukraine.

2/22/2022 Sen. Paul Warns Trudeau’s Style Emergency Powers Law Exists In U.S. by OAN Newsroom
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022 in Ottawa. Trudeau
said Monday emergency powers are still needed despite police ending border blockades and the occupation of the nation’s
capital by truckers and others angry over Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)
    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) recently denounced Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s use of emergency powers.    While speaking on a Based Politics podcast Sunday, the Republican said that the emergency is giving Trudeau near total power over Canada.
    The Kentucky lawmaker claims that not only does the act allow the suspension of bank accounts, but even allows him to go as far as detaining citizens indefinitely without trial.    Paul also warned similar so-called emergency laws exist in the U.S.
    “I think statutes that allow presidents or heads of state to invoke emergencies are very, very dangerous,” he stated.    “We have the same sort of statutes here and I have long-time been an opponent of these.    We actually have in the United States an Emergency Act that allows the president to shut down the internet.”
    Sen. Paul said that there have been emergencies afforded to presidents that have been renewed every year for decades.     Meanwhile, a majority of American voters do not like the way the Canadian prime minister responded to the trucker protest of vaccine mandates.
    A survey conducted by the Convention of States Action and the Trafalgar Group released Tuesday shows 55 percent of American voters disapprove of Trudeau’s handling of the protest while only 35 percent approve.
    Trudeau invoked his country’s Emergencies Act to break up the peaceful trucker protest in Ottawa.    Under the act, Canadian authorities were allowed to use heavy handed tactics to disperse the Freedom Convoy despite the truckers remaining peaceful.

2/22/2022 Germany Halts Approval Of Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Citing Russian Escalation In Ukraine
Chancellor Olaf Scholz walks down the guard battalion honor formation of the German Armed Forces during the military honors for the
Prime Minister of Ireland in front of the Federal Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Feb.22, 2022. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)
    German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he’s halting certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.    He announced the development Tuesday while citing Russian escalation in Ukraine.    Specifically, Scholz said he would not accept the recognition of the two self-proclaimed pro-Russian separatist areas in the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine.
    “I have asked the German economy ministry today to withdraw the report on the analysis of energy supply guarantees from (German regulator) Bundesnetzagentur,” stated the Chancellor.    “It sounds technical, but it’s the required procedure so that there can be no certification of the pipeline now.    Without this certification, Nord Stream 2 can’t become operational.”
    The $11 billion pipeline bringing natural gas from Russia to Germany has been a hotly contested issue in Washington.    Lawmakers on Capitol Hill previously urged Joe Biden to reconsider his decision to waive some sanctions related to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, but to no avail.
    Meanwhile, Scholz said Germany is “reassessing” the pipeline’s certification.

2/22/2022 Trump Weighs In On Biden’s Handling Of Russia-Ukraine Situation by OAN Newsroom
Donald Trump at the DeltaPlex Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
    The 45th president asserted the ongoing situation between Russia and Ukraine would not be happening if he was still in the White House.    Donald Trump released a statement Tuesday, saying he knows Russian President Vladimir Putin very well and the leader would have never done what he’s doing now during the last administration.
    He went on to take aim at the Biden administration by calling the sanctions they are pushing weak and pointing out they will be insignificant if Russia ends up taking Ukraine.    Trump also pointed out Putin is getting richer because oil prices are only getting higher and higher.    On top of that, he noted the U.S. is no longer energy independent like it was under his watch.
    His remarks came after the White House confirmed Joe Biden signed an executive order aiming to impose costs on Putin.    The order prohibits new investments in the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk from the U.S. and also blocks U.S. goods from entering the area.
    Biden outlined the new economic sanctions against Russia during his first press briefing Tuesday after declaring Russia’s actions as an “invasion.”    He said his sanctions will cut Moscow off from western financing, limiting their access to global tech.    This means it can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on the U.S. market or European market.
    Biden also declared the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will not move forward and he will place sanctions on high-profile Russian families.    He accused Russia of violating international law and promised a unified response from the U.S. as well as its allies.
    Biden noted that while the U.S. has no intention of fighting Russia, the U.S. will gather troops currently in Europe to reinforce Baltic allies.    He also acknowledged that these new sanctions may result in higher gas prices for Americans and pledged to work to limit the financial impact on average families.
    Meanwhile, the U.K. also slapped sanctions on five Russian banks after Putin’s decision to send troops to Eastern Ukraine.    Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the move Tuesday and said three wealthy individuals with close ties to Putin will also face sanctions.
    Johnson said the individuals’ assets will be frozen in the U.K. and all citizens will be barred from doing business with the sanctioned Russian banks.    The EU is also reportedly preparing to impose sanctions against Russia to stop the Kremlin from accessing capital and financial markets in the bloc.

2/23/2022 Oil up $0.55 to $91.64, DOW down 523 to 33,555.

2/23/2022 Russia Isolating Itself With Its Actions, German Foreign Minister Says
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks to the media before a meeting with
European Union Foreign Ministers in Brussels, Belgium February 21, 2022. REUTERS/Yves Herman
    BERLIN (Reuters) – The international community will not accept Russia’s breach of international law and Moscow is isolating itself with its latest actions in Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Wednesday.
    “The action that is taking place now may follow a strategy in the short-term, but it is not a medium or long-term strategy to completely isolate yourself worldwide,” Baerbock told a joint news conference in Berlin with her French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.
    Baerbock said it was important to quickly coordinate a sanctions package against Russia with Germany’s partners to show that Russia’s actions were not acceptable, adding that the West should keep a window open for talks with Russia.
    “Even in the toughest of crises, we must always keep the window for talks open.    We want to prevent war together,” Baerbock said.
(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa and Miranda Murray; Editing by Paul Carrel)

2/23/2022 Italy Considers Offering Ukraine Aid, “Non-Lethal” Military Help
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio attends a news conference following talks with his
Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia February 17, 2022. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov/Pool
    ROME (Reuters) – Italy is considering sending Ukraine aid to support its economy and also “non-lethal” military help as tensions with Russia rise ever higher, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told parliament on Wednesday.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin has massed more than 150,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, according to U.S. estimates, and has signed a decree on the deployment of troops in the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk enclaves.
    The prolonged crisis has battered Ukrainian output and Di Maio said the government was ready to set aside 110 million euros ($124.75 million) to support “the Ukrainian population and economy in areas to be agreed with the Kiev authorities.”
    Amongst the “non-lethal” material Italy was planning to dispatch to the Ukranian armed forces was demining equipment, the minister said.
    Di Maio also told lawmakers that Italy would work to limit “as much as possible” the impact on its economy and strategic interests of any sanctions imposed on Russia by the West.
    Italy sources around 40% of its gas from Russia and Prime Minister Mario Draghi said last week that any sanctions should not include energy.
    A first, limited round of European Union sanctions on Russia will take effect on Wednesday, blacklisting more politicians and banning trade between the EU and the two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.
    “We want to pursue any diplomatic initiative that could avoid war.    We believe it is still possible, even if the chances are narrowing day by day,” Di Maio said. ($1 = 0.8818 euros)
(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

2/23/2022 EU’s Russia Sanctions To Take Effect On Wednesday
FILE PHOTO: European Union flags are seen outside the EU Commission headquarters
in Brussels, Belgium November 14, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A first, limited round of European Union sanctions on Russia will take effect on Wednesday, an EU diplomat said, blacklisting more politicians and banning trade between the EU and two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday recognised the separatist enclaves in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine that adjoin Russia, deepening Western fears of a major war in Europe.
    The EU chose not to sanction Putin himself but instead blacklist all members of the lower house of the Russian parliament who voted in favour of the recognition of the breakaway regions, freezing any assets they have in the EU and banning them from travelling to the bloc.
    Banks involved in financing separatist activities in eastern Ukraine will also be targeted and the two enclaves will be removed from a free-trade deal between the EU and Ukraine.
    The impact of the new sanctions on banks and of limits on the Russian government’s ability to raise capital on the EU’s financial markets is likely to be limited.
    Western governments for now are preferring to keep the much larger sanctions packages that they have planned in reserve should the crisis escalate.
    The sanctions, already approved in principle by foreign ministers on Tuesday and confirmed by ambassadors on Wednesday morning, still need formal approval by the foreign ministers.
    That is normally a formality, and the sanctions will enter into force once they are published in the EU’s official journal, a step expected later on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold and John Chalmers; Writing by Ingrid Melander, editing by Timothy Heritage)

2/23/2022 Senate GOP Introduce ‘Truckers Act’ To Repeal COVID Vaccine Mandate For Foreign Truckers by OAN Newsroom
Demonstrators rally against provincial and federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates
and in support of Ottawa protestors (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)
    Republican senators introduced a bill to exempt foreign truck drivers from vaccine mandates when temporarily entering the U.S. for business. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) led the charge on Tuesday in introducing the Terminating Reckless and Unnecessary Checks Known to Erode Regular Shipping or TRUCKERS Act.
    In a statement, Scott called Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates “ridiculous.”    He added, truckers are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy and placing those restrictions on them will only make the ongoing supply chain crisis worse.    GOP Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) is expected to announce a companion bill in the House later this week.
    Meanwhile, the first day of The People’s Convoy kicked off Wednesday.    One America’s Stefan Kleinhenz has more.

2/23/2022 Biden Pledges Multi-Million Dollar Package To Shore Up U.S. Supply Chains Of Rare Earth Materials by OAN Newsroom
A worker in China shifts soil containing rare earth minerals intended for
export in 2010. Rare earths are used in important technologies. (Getty Images)
    Joe Biden’s pledge to bolster America’s supply chain sounds reminiscent of his predecessor. He appeared to take a page out of the 45th president’s ‘America First’ playbook.    On Tuesday, Biden held a meeting with several business executives, cabinet members and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) to discuss the supply chain crisis plaguing the U.S. economy.
    Biden pledged to spend $35 million to shift processing rare earth materials to U.S. facilities and $700 million to create more than 350 jobs in the magnet supply chain by 2024.    He said his goal is to bring manufacturing jobs back to America.
    “We need a future that’s made in America,” Biden stated.    “Almost exactly a year ago, I issued an executive order to prioritize strengthening our domestic supply chain because when I found out was that, you know, if I was going to follow through on my commitment to say we were going to make it in America and build it in America and have all of it built in America, we needed a supply chain that was that was reliable.”
    He went on to say his administration is committed to combating China’s hold on America’s supply chain.    Biden even reiterated Donald Trump’s promise to put products on shelves that tout being made in America.
    “China has spent several years cornered the market on many of the materials that power the technologies that we rely on,” Biden explained.    “That’s why I committed us to build a clean energy supply chain stamped ‘Made in America’ and ‘Made in America’ means using products, parts and materials as well as minerals right here that are in the United States of America.    It means betting on American workers.”
    His remarks came after Republican lawmakers sounded the alarm on America’s dependence on China’s supply chain as the coronavirus brought these cleavages to light.    In 2020, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced the Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet Act amid shortages of essential medical treatments and equipment for COVID-19.    Additionally, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) claimed China cut off supply of these materials to the U.S. to further escalate the trade war with former President Trump.
    In the meantime, a slew of U.S. companies are joining Biden’s campaign to shore up America’s supply of rare earth materials.    Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy plans to make a new demonstration facility in Imperial County, California in the spring to test the viability of extracting lithium.
    Meanwhile, Tesla vowed to source high-grade nickel for its cars’ batteries from Minnesota.    Also, Redwood Materials, which is founded by Tesla co-founder J.B. Straubel, is partnering up with Ford to collect and recycle electric vehicle batteries for essential rare earth materials at Redwood’s Nevada facility.

2/23/2022 England Ends Domestic COVID-19 Restrictions by OAN Newsroom
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street as he makes his way to parliament,
to attend Prime Minister’s Questions, in London, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
    Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the end of all COVID-19 restrictions in an address to the British House of Commons.    He made this announcement while speaking to Parliament on Monday.
    “First, we will remove all remaining domestic restrictions in law,” he stated.    “From this Thursday, 24th of February, we will end the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test.    And so, we will also end self-isolation support payments.    Although, COVID provisions for statutory sick pay can still be claimed for a further month.    We will end routine contact tracing and no longer ask fully vaccinated close contacts and those under 18 to test daily for seven days.”
    The announcement was met with mixed reactions as many raised concerns about how it will affect the country moving forward.    Amongst those who supported the move is British Chief Scientific Advisor Patrick Vallance, who commented on it during a subsequent press conference.
    “So detect, respond and protect the most vulnerable is absolutely crucial during a period of reducing the measures that are in place and being careful about how that goes in relation to what is an evolving virus with a period of quite unstable evolution over the next year or more,” said Vallance.    “These measures are going to be important to give the safety net and as an American colleague put it at the weekend, he said you can celebrate when the Sun is shining but take your umbrella with you.    And I think that’s really the message.”
    Johnson ended his address by defending his decision amidst reactions from both sides of the aisle.    He expressed the need to live with the coronavirus without restricting individual freedoms.
    “It is time that we got our confidence back, we don’t need laws to compel people to be considerate to others,” stressed the British Prime Minister.    “We can rely on that sense of responsibility towards one another, providing practical advice in the knowledge that people will follow it to avoid infecting loved ones and others.    So let us learn to live with this virus, and continue protecting ourselves and others without restricting our freedoms.”
    This change will only apply to England and will take effect this week.

2/23/2022 Oil up 0.28 to $91.88, DOW down 481 to 33,114.

2/24/2022 NATO Activates Defense Plans As Russia Attacks Ukraine by OAN Newsroom
G7 leaders, from the left up, US President Joe Biden, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, President of the European Council
Charles Michel, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister Mario Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron
take part to a video-conference on Ukraine, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP)
    NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg said top American Gen. Tod Wolters of the U.S. European Command directed him to activate its defense plans. Stoltenberg pointed out that Russia has shattered peace and is putting countless innocent lives at risk. He emphasized the alliance will defend and protect every ally against any attack.     “This is a prudent and defensive step to protect and shield allied nations during this crisis,” stated the NATO Chief.    “And it will enable us to deploy capabilities and forces, including the NATO response force to where they are needed.”
    Meanwhile, the U.S. doubled down on security and other assistance to Ukraine. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the move Wednesday, saying the U.S. will reinforce NATO with more troops in Eastern Europe.    So far, about 6,000 U.S. troops are positioned in Germany, Poland and Romania near the countries’ borders with Ukraine.
    It’s not clear how many more American troops will be sent to the region.    In the meantime, NATO is boosting allied forces as the alliance condemns Russia’s invasion.

2/24/2022 Lawyers For Mich. High School Shooting Suspect Push For Move To Youth Detention Center by OAN Newsroom
Ethan Crumbley attends a hearing at Oakland County circuit court in Pontiac, Mich., on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, over the teen’s
placement as he awaits trial. Crumbley, 15, is charged with the fatal shooting of four fellow students and the wounding
of seven others, including a teacher at Oxford High School on Nov. 30. (David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP, Pool)
    Lawyers for Ethan Crumbley, the suspect in the Oxford High School shooting in Michigan, are requesting the teen to be transferred to a juvenile facility.
    In a hearing Tuesday, defense attorney Paulette Loftin argued the 15-year-old should be moved to Children’s Village Juvenile Facility for his safety.    She said he should not be seen as a menace to other juveniles.    Crumbly is being charged and housed as an adult.    However, Loftin stressed the isolation he’s currently placed in will be detrimental to his health.
    “He is being housed currently in the clinic facility in the Oakland County Jail,” explained the defense attorney.    “It is essentially a cement cell with a glass door and because the rule is that he has to be out of sight and sound from adults, he has very little interaction with anyone…our testimony will be that this extreme isolation is actually not beneficial whatsoever and actually harms Mr. Crumbly.”
    His lawyers added, the teen showed concerning signs of mental illness before the shooting and had even asked his parents to see a therapist.
    “In the time leading up to these events that my client was hallucinating, that he was seeing things, he was hearing voices, He was not sleeping, He was extremely anxious, he was not eating properly,” Loftin noted.
    However, assistant prosecutor Markeisha Washington argued Crumbley displayed interests well beyond an average 15-year-old and would pose as a potential risk at the facility.
    “In a text read with his friend and in his journal, he outlined a plan to stalk rape, torture and ultimately kill a female classmate,” Washington stated.    “He expressed delight in torturing a family of baby birds.    He spoke of his admiration for Adolf Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer.”
    The assistant prosecutor went on to further emphasize how the teen demonstrated he can be calculating and has a desire to be remembered for his alleged crimes.
    “The evidence will show that the defendant had a very specific and detailed agenda leading up to November 30,” Washington continued.    “In his journal, excuse me, he described the type of gun he needed, who his first victim would be and ultimately he expressed that he would surrender so that he could witness the pain and suffering that he caused.”
    A decision is expected to be handed down early next week.    The teen pleaded not guilty last month and faces 24-counts, which includes murder and terrorism charges.    Meanwhile, his parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley who also face four-counts of involuntary manslaughter each, are due back in court Thursday for a continuation of their preliminary hearing.

2/24/2022 Hundreds Of Migrants Clash With Police Near Guatemalan Border by OAN Newsroom
A National Guardsman guards a group searching for disappeared relatives, on the outskirts of Ciudad Mante,
Tamaulipas state, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. The rolls of the disappeared have risen from about
26,000 in 2013, to 40,000 in 2019, to a current, official tally of nearly 100,000. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
    Hundreds of migrants clashed with police in Southern Mexico while demanding their documents be processed to enter the U.S. On Tuesday, officials reported more than 20 migrants were injured after clashing with members of the National Guard near the Guatemalan border city of Tapachula.
    State police joined the Mexican National Guard to help stem the conflict as some migrants blocked traffic and threw stones at authorities.    Migrants headed to the U.S. are coming from as far as South America.
    “We had to corner ourselves, at least those of us who were carrying our children.    They took us out of there (from the surroundings of the National Migration Institute), not caring about anything.    We only asked them to bring forward the dates of our appointments.    They have given us dates for 4, 5, 6 months.    We need to solve our migration problems.    We are not throwing stones.    We are all the same – Cubans, Venezuelans – we see that there is a lot of racism, there are no human rights of any type.”
— Unnamed migrant
    Earlier this month, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission urged immigration authorities to speed up the process to approve documents for migrants or let them travel through the country without being detained.

2/24/2022 U.S., G7 Allies Meet After Russia Invades Ukraine by Andrea Shalal
U.S. President Joe Biden provides an update on Russia and Ukraine during remarks in the
East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 22, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden met with his counterparts from the Group of Seven allies on Thursday morning to map out more severe measures against Russia after President Vladimir Putin launched what Biden called “a premeditated war” against Ukraine.
    Biden, who spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy late on Wednesday, convened his National Security Council earlier on Thursday to discuss the latest developments in Ukraine, according to a White House official.
    He planned to make his first public remarks on the new conflict in Ukraine at 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT), the White House said.    Biden and his G7 colleagues are scrambling to respond to a worst-case scenario by imposing harsh sanctions on Russia that may cause gasoline prices in the West to go up.
    The virtual meeting between the United States and its allies ended at 10:27 a.m., the White House official said.
    Biden met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
    The group was looking at ways to respond to what Biden in a statement late Wednesday called “an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces” on Ukraine.
    “President (Vladimir) Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Biden wrote.
    It came shortly after Putin told Russian state TV he had authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine and explosions were heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and the breakaway eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk.
    Biden will announce “the further consequences the United States and our allies and partners will impose on Russia” later on Thursday, the White House said.
    The U.S. president said Washington would also coordinate with NATO allies “to ensure a strong, united response that deters any aggression against the alliance.”
    NATO, set to hold an emergency summit on Friday, on Thursday said it was bolstering its troop presence on its eastern flank and putting hundreds of warplanes and ships on alert.
    Biden, who served as America’s vice president and was deeply engaged in 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine, will be joined for the G7 call in the White House Situation Room by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
    The G7 is comprised by the United States, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Japan.
    Biden, who orchestrated an initial round of Western sanctions against Russian oligarchs, financial institutions and exports this week, is under pressure from fellow Democrats and Republicans in Congress to crack down even harder on Moscow.
    House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a fellow Democrat, told CNN on Wednesday that Western actions were being closely watched by China with an eye to whether it could successfully invade Taiwan.
    “We have to make sure that if Putin goes forward with this invasion more fully … that the costs to Putin and Russia are just crippling,” he said.
    Schiff said the United States and its allies should put in place “the most severe sanctions as soon as possible,” including a permanent end to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline connecting Russia with Germany under the Baltic Sea.
    Republican Senator Rob Portman demanded tough sanctions, rigid export controls and moves to increase military support to Ukraine and other allies, including Poland, Romania and the Baltic countries, in a statement after the Russian attacks.
    Top U.S. officials were previously scheduled to brief all members of Congress by phone later on Thursday.
    Moscow will pay an even steeper price if it continues its aggression, U.S. officials warned this week.
    Washington on Wednesday stepped up pressure on Putin by imposing sanctions on the firm building the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and its corporate officers, a move Biden had waived for months.
    Germany on Tuesday froze approvals for the pipeline, which has been built but was not yet in operation, amid concerns it could allow Moscow to weaponize energy supplies to Europe.
    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday vowed “a massive package of economic sanctions.”
    Next steps are likely to include sanctions against additional Russian banks, including Sberbank and VTB, steps to bar U.S. financial institutions from processing transactions for major Russian banks, and export controls on U.S. and foreign-made goods, from commercial electronics and computers to semiconductors and aircraft parts.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Trevor Hunnicutt and Steve Holland; editing by Richard Pullin, Susan Heavey, Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

2/24/2022 Scholz Says West Must Ensure Ukraine Conflict Does Not Spread
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives for a statement on Ukraine at the chancellery
in Berlin, Germany, February 24, 2022. Michael Kappeler/Pool via REUTERS
    BERLIN (Reuters) – The West will deploy all resources available to ensure that the conflict in Ukraine does not spread to other countries in Europe, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a televised address to the nation on Thursday.
    “Putin should not underestimate the determination of NATO to defend all its members.    This applies expressly to our NATO partners in the Baltic States, Poland and Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia.    No ifs or buts,” the chancellor said.
    Scholz also said Russian President Vladimir Putin alone and not the Russian people bore the responsibility for the attack on Ukraine, but he “would not win.”
    “With the attack on Ukraine, President Putin wants to turn back time.    But there is no going back to the 19th century, when great powers ruled over the heads of smaller states,” Scholz said.
(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle and Sarah Marsh; Editing by Zuzanna Szymanska)

2/24/2022 Biden Announces More Russian Sanctions, Says Putin ‘Aggressor’ In Ukraine by OAN Newsroom
President Joe Biden speaks about the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the East Room
of the White House, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    Joe Biden outlined additional sanctions against Russia while calling Vladimir Putin “the aggressor” in Ukraine.    The U.S. president addressed the nation Thursday, announcing the U.S. is cutting off Russia’s largest bank, sanctioning more elites and taking other measures to limit its ability to be part of the world economy.
    Biden claimed these sanctions will have long-term impacts and debilitate Russia’s financial system for years to come.    He also said additional U.S. troops will be deployed to Germany to reinforce NATO allies.    However, he asserted U.S. forces will not be engaging with Russia in Ukraine.    The U.S. is also preparing for possible Russian cyber attacks.
    Western allies reportedly believe the Ukrainian capital of Kiev may fall to invading Russian forces as soon as Thursday night.    That’s according to a Bloomberg report citing a senior western intelligence official.
    The country’s air defenses are also reported to have been eliminated and Russian ground troops are believed to be advancing towards the capital.    This comes amid speculation Russian President Putin is seeking to oust Ukraine’s democratically-elected government and install a pro-Kremlin regime by force.
    Ukrainian President Zelenskyy warned of a new Iron Curtain falling as Russian forces attack on several fronts.    He made the remarks Thursday and claimed Ukrainian forces are engaged in heavy fighting in its northern region.    However, Zelenskyy said the most problematic area is in the southern part of the country where Russia’s ground forces have moved in from Crimea.    Dozens of casualties have been reported on both sides of the war.
    Zelenskyy called on other European countries to help and warned if they don’t step up, they will be next.

2/24/2022 Biden’s Past Inflation Narrative Comes Back To Bite Him by OAN Newsroom
FILE – President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with private sector CEOs about the economy in the
State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Jan. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
    Former congressman Ron Paul and his colleague Daniel McAdams are criticizing Joe Biden for shifting blame about inflation.    While speaking on the Liberty Report Wednesday, Dr. Paul pointed out Biden is telling Americans they will face even higher inflation to defend the Ukrainian government.    This comes as U.S. inflation rose to almost 8 percent over the past year.
    Paul said Biden’s inflation happened due to his poor economic policies at home while foreign affairs is not the main reason.    He went on to say the speculation of war and excessive focus on foreign policy are partially used to justify of economic problems facing America.
    Meanwhile, Paul’s colleague, McAdams, pointed out Biden’s latest claim about inflation run in stark contrast with his comments at a press conference last November when he was confronted by a reporter about inflation.    McAdams and Dr. Paul criticized Biden’s shifting narrative and maintain the root cause of inflation is not that complicated.
    Paul says excessive government spending continues to be the driver of inflation.    He suggested Biden and the rest of Congress must simply stop the reckless spending and warned the average American is the one who ultimately pays the price.

2/24/2022 Oil up $7.15 to $99.40, DOW up 92 to 33,224.

2/25/2022 From Tokyo To New York, Thousands Protest Against Invasion Of Ukraine
People take part in a protest after Russia launched a massive military operation
against Ukraine, in New York City, U.S., February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs
    (Reuters) – Protesters turned out on public squares and outside Russian embassies in cities from Tokyo to Tel Aviv and New York on Thursday to denounce the invasion of Ukraine — while more than a thousand who tried to do the same in Russia were arrested.
    The earliest known protest occurred outside Russia’s embassy in Washington around 1 a.m. EST (0600 GMT) on Thursday, only three hours after President Vladimir Putin said he had launched his military operation.
    Local news reports showed dozens of protesters in the U.S. capital waving Ukrainian flags and chanting “Stop Russian aggression!
    In London, hundreds of demonstrators, many of them Ukrainian and some weeping, gathered outside Downing Street, home to the prime minister, urging Britain to do more.
    “We need help, we need someone to support us,” said one.    “Ukraine is too small and the pressure is too big.”
    In Paris, one demonstrator told Reuters: “I feel that we are in a very dangerous moment for the whole world.”
    In Madrid, Oscar-winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem, nominated for another Academy Award this year, joined about a hundred protesters outside the Russian embassy.
    “It is an invasion. … It violates Ukraine’s fundamental right to territorial sovereignty, international law, and many other things,” Bardem said.
    A giant flag was carried through Manhattan’s Times Square by a crowd of several hundred protesters.
    In the Swiss capital Bern, hundreds gathered, holding Ukrainian flags and chanting “Peace for Ukraine!.”
    Agapi Tamir, 28, one of a few dozen members of Greece’s Ukrainian community who staged a protest in Athens, said:
    “The only thing we believe is that a miracle will stop all this awful and frightening thing that is happening at this moment.”
    A small demonstration in Geneva, organised by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) outside the U.N. European headquarters, condemned what the group said was Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons.
O    ther demonstrations were held in Beirut, Tel Aviv, Dublin and Prague.
    Also in Dublin, a Russian double-eagle crest beside the gate of the Russian embassy was defaced with red paint.
    More protests were scheduled for later in the day in the U.S. cities of Houston and Denver, according to social media posts.
    In Russia itself, protesters defied an official warning that explicitly threatened criminal prosecution and even jail time for those calling for or taking part in protests.
    Hundreds rallied in cities including Moscow, St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, chanting slogans such as “No to war!” and holding up makeshift signs.
    By 1939 GMT, police had detained no fewer than 1,667 people in 53 cities, the OVD-Info rights monitor said.    Six hundred were arrested in Moscow alone, the Tass news agency reported.
(Reporting by Reuters bureaux around the world; Writing by Kevin Liffey)

2/25/2022 UK Says Russia Plans To Take Whole Of Ukraine But Is Failing by William James and Kate Holton
A view shows a destroyed building after shelling in the town of Starobilsk in the Luhansk region, Ukraine, in this
handout picture released February 25, 2022. Press service of the Ukrainian State Emergency Service/Handout via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) -Russia intends to take the whole of Ukraine but the Russian army failed to deliver it main objectives on the first day of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Friday.
    Russia launched its invasion by land, air and sea on Thursday following a declaration of war by Putin, in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.
    Missiles pounded the Ukrainian capital on Friday as Russian forces pressed their advance and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pleaded with the international community to do more, saying sanctions announced so far were not enough.
    “It’s definitely our view that the Russians intend to invade the whole of Ukraine,” Wallace told Sky.
    Putin says Russia is carrying out “a special military operation” to stop the Ukrainian government from committing genocide against its own people – an accusation the West calls baseless.    He also says Ukraine is an illegitimate state whose lands historically belong to Russia.
    Wallace cast Putin, Russia’s paramount leader since 1999, as illogical.
    “I certainly think he has gone full tonto,” Wallace said.    “No-one else in their right mind would do what we are seeing on our telly screens today.”
    Russia says Western leaders are gripped by Russophobia and that the United States and its allies have been plotting to undermine Russia for decades.
    Wallace said the Russian army had failed to deliver any of its key objectives, directly contradicting the Russian defence ministry which said it had achieved all of its main aims on the first day of the military operation.
    “Contrary to great Russian claims, and indeed President Putin’s sort of vision that somehow the Ukrainians would be liberated and would be flocking to his cause, he’s got that completely wrong, and the Russian army has failed to deliver, on day one, its main objective,” Wallace said.
    Russia, Wallace said, had lost more than 450 personnel so far.
    After Britain unveiled its toughest sanctions yet on Russia, Wallace said London was pushing reluctant allies to cut off Russia from the SWIFT global interbank payments system.
    “We would like to go further, we’d like to do the SWIFT system,” he said.    “If not every country wants them to be thrown out of the SWIFT system, it becomes difficult.”
    British Airways owner IAG is now avoiding Russian airspace for overflights and cancelled its flight to Moscow on Friday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson banned Russia’s flagship airline Aeroflot from Britain, CEO Luis Gallego said.
    Britain has prohibited all scheduled Russian airlines from entering British airspace. (Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Alistair Smout and Michel Holden)

2/25/2022 Biden Hits Russia With New Sanctions For ‘Premeditated’ Ukraine Attack by Steve Holland, Jeff Mason and Nandita Bose
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the
East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden hit Russia with a wave of sanctions on Thursday after Moscow invaded Ukraine, measures that impede Russia’s ability to do business in major currencies along with sanctions against banks and state-owned enterprises.
    Biden described Russian President Vladimir Putin as an aggressor with a “sinister vision of the world” and a misguided dream of recreating the Soviet Union.
    But he held back from imposing sanctions on Putin himself and from disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT international banking system, amid differences with Western allies over how far to go at this juncture and criticism from Republicans that he should have done more.
    Ukrainian forces battled Russian invaders on three sides on Thursday, prompting tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.
    “This is a premeditated attack,” Biden told reporters at the White House.    “Putin is the aggressor.    Putin chose this war.    And now he and his country will bear the consequences.”
    Biden said the sanctions were designed to have a long-term impact on Russia and to minimize the impact on the United States and its allies.    And he said Washington was prepared to do more.
    The sanctions are aimed at limiting Russia’s ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds and yen.    Among the targets were five major banks, including state-backed Sberbank and VTB, as well as members of the Russian elite and their families.    Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, will no longer be able to transfer money with the assistance of U.S. banks.
    The White House also announced export restrictions aimed at curbing Russia’s access to everything from commercial electronics and computers to semiconductors and aircraft parts.
    Biden said NATO would meet on Friday to map out further measures and reiterated that the United States would not engage in war with Russia.    But he said the United States would meet its Article 5 commitments, in which NATO members agree an armed attack against one of them in Europe or North America will be considered an attack against them all.    Since Ukraine is not a NATO member, those protections do not apply.
    Biden said this was “a dangerous moment for all of Europe,” and that he had authorized troops that had been placed on standby to deploy to Germany.    He declined to comment on whether he would urge China to join the West’s drive to isolate Russia.
    U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the world was watching how Washington responds.
    He said Congress would support “truly devastating sanctions” against the Kremlin, but he said Biden should have imposed tough sanctions early enough to deter an invasion and weaken Russia.
    “Sadly, deterrence after the fact is not deterrence at all,” McConnell said in a statement.
    Biden met with his counterparts from the Group of Seven allies and his National Security Council on Thursday, after speaking with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy late on Wednesday.
    His announcement represented the second major tranche of sanctions against Russia since Putin earlier this week declared two breakaway regions of Ukraine independent and sent troops there.
    The United States had warned it would initiate waves of sanctions against Moscow if it further invaded Ukraine, and Russia’s full-on military assault launched on Thursday led to the latest round of Western penalties.
    White House press secretary Jen Psaki later told reporters the Biden administration believes Putin has “grander ambitions than Ukraine” without offering further details.
    On Wednesday Washington imposed sanctions on the company in charge of building Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and on Tuesday it sanctioned two large Russian financial institutions and Russian sovereign debt along with some members of the Russian elite and their family members.
    The moves are aimed at pushing up inflation and interest rates in Russia, lowering purchasing power, investment, growth and living standards, White House economic adviser Daleep Singh told reporters on Thursday.
    Biden has become the face of the Western response to Russian aggression at a time when he is battling low poll numbers at home, rising inflation that could be exacerbated by the Ukraine conflict, and looming midterm elections that could hand control of the Senate and House of Representatives from his fellow Democrats to Republicans.
    Officials said he briefed leaders in the U.S. Congress about the Ukraine crisis during a secure call on Thursday.
    The White House has warned Americans that the conflict could lead to higher fuel prices in the United States, though it is taking measures to help soften that blow.    U.S. officials have been working with counterparts in other countries on a combined release of additional oil from global strategic crude reserves, two sources said on Thursday.
    Biden warned oil and gas companies not to “exploit” this moment to raise prices.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Jeff Mason; Additional reporting by Nandita Bose, Andrea Shalal and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Trevor Hunnicutt and Daniel Wallis)

2/25/2022 Ukraine And Russia: What You Need To Know Right Now
General view of Kyiv after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a
military operation in eastern Ukraine, February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
    (Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the Ukraine crisis right now:
* Missiles pounded the Ukrainian capital as Russian forces pressed their advance and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pleaded with the international community to do more, saying sanctions announced so far were not enough.
* Russian forces would enter areas just outside Kyiv later on Friday even though Ukrainian units were defending positions on four fronts despite being outnumbered, a top Ukrainian defence official said.
* Russia intends to take the whole of Ukraine but its army failed to deliver on the first day of its invasion, Britain’s defence secretary said.
* Ukrainian forces downed an aircraft over Kyiv, which then crashed into a residential building, said Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the interior minister.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin said his aim was to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine.    He said any hindrance would be met by “such consequences that you have never encountered in your history.”
* U.S. President Joe Biden said Putin’s action was about naked aggression.    He unveiled new sanctions on its banks and wealthy elite and export restrictions.
* Britain, Canada, the EU, Australia, Japan, Taiwan and others unveiled sanctions against Russia, targeting banks, military exports and members of Putin’s inner circle.
* Russia has spent seven years building up financial defences but in the long run, its economy is unlikely to withstand the onslaught of coordinated sanctions.
* Thousands of Ukrainians are trying to escape to neighbouring countries.
* Daniil Medvedev said he wanted to promote peace after a “roller-coaster day” when he was confirmed the world’s top tennis player and his country invaded Ukraine.
* Former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko said he would take up arms alongside his brother and fellow Hall of Famer Wladimir Klitschko for Ukraine.
* Stock markets tumbled and Russia’s rouble hit an all-time low. U.S. stocks turned positive as the West detailed its sanctions against Russia. [MKTS/GLOB]
– “Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany,” Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.
* The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote at 2000 GMT on a draft resolution condemning Russia and requiring it to unconditionally withdraw.
(Editing by Robert Birsel)

2/25/2022 NATO Leaves Black Sea Exposed As Russia Invades Ukraine by John Irish, Robin Emmott and Jonathan Saul
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference on Russia's
attack on Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Yves Herman
    BUCHAREST (Reuters) – When Russia attacked Ukraine, the nearest naval vessel of a major NATO ally was in the Mediterranean.    The last such ship from a major naval member of the Western military alliance left the Black Sea – an area roughly the size of California bordering Russia, Ukraine and NATO members Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania – over a month ago.
    A French warship completed a tour in early January and no major NATO naval ally has patrolled its waters since, according to Turkish maritime website, which tracks the movements of foreign warships.    Meanwhile, 16 ships from Russia’s naval fleets, including missile ships and vessels capable of landing tanks, had sailed into the Black Sea, according to and Russian defence ministry statements.
    As NATO scrambles to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a major exposed flank is the Black Sea.    Despite a stated resolve to deter Russia, the alliance has failed to prevent it from building a presence in the area.
    A key reason: divisions among members over whether to challenge Russia’s navy in the area, resulting in a lack of a coherent and meaningful Black Sea NATO strategy, according to Reuters interviews with diplomats, intelligence officials and security sources from NATO members as well as military strategists, retired military commanders and shipping industry officials.
    That includes reluctance by some NATO members, notably Turkey, to agree to maritime patrols to avoid provoking Moscow, they said.    Other factors are budget constraints and the existence of other priorities among some major NATO allies, they added.
    Russia’s Black Sea naval presence, which provides both military and economic leverage over Kyiv, had been disrupting Ukraine’s maritime trade even before the invasion.    Ukraine’s ports have seen traffic fall sharply in recent weeks, according to commercial ship data reviewed by Reuters.    Following Thursday’s attack, Ukraine suspended operations at its sea ports.
    “It’s like a boa constrictor around Ukraine’s neck, squeezing and squeezing and squeezing,” said retired U.S. Admiral James Foggo, who commanded U.S. and NATO fleets in Europe for almost a decade until 2020.    “NATO needs a maritime strategy.”
    Ukraine is not a NATO ally, and the alliance is not treaty-bound to protect it.
    On Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the assault on Ukraine included Russian naval forces as well as from the air and ground.    Speaking to news media, he said NATO had more than 120 allied ships “from the high north to the Mediterranean” and more than 100 jets at high alert.
    NATO did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this article.    It has previously denied neglecting the Black Sea.    Earlier this month, Stoltenberg said Black Sea security is of “vital strategic importance” to the alliance.    Three of NATO’s members plus two close partners, including Ukraine, have coastal borders.
    NATO has focused on boots on the ground.    It plans to deploy land combat units totaling around 4,000 troops to Black Sea countries Romania and Bulgaria as well as Hungary and Slovakia, which border Ukraine.    In addition, the United States is sending nearly 3,000 extra troops to Ukraine neighbors Poland and Romania.
    Prior to Thursday’s invasion, Russia had amassed more than 150,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, including in the Black Sea area, the United States has said.
    Russia, which has demanded an end to NATO’s eastward expansion, launched airstrikes on Ukrainian cities while advancing troops and tanks early Thursday.    Putin said he authorised military action to defend against what he said were threats emanating from Ukraine, a democratic state of 44 million people.
    Moscow, which asserts NATO should stay out of waters it claims as its own, had said the recently arrived ships were part of a pre-planned movement of military resources.    Russia has long complained about what it has called a dangerous increase in military activity by the United States and its allies in the Black Sea – activities that NATO has said are purely defensive.
    NATO’s naval response to Russia also has implications for the West’s ability to assert its interests elsewhere, such as the South China Sea, where Beijing claims sovereignty.
    “If, with the whole world watching, we cannot deter the Kremlin, I don’t think the Chinese will be terribly impressed about what we say about Taiwan or the South China Sea,” said retired U.S. General Ben Hodges, who commanded U.S. Army forces in Europe from 2014 until 2017 and who met Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv in early February.
    The warmer waters of the Black Sea in contrast to the Arctic have been critical to Russia since at least the 17th century.    “Going back to Peter the Great, Russia has always been concerned as a land power about its lack of maritime access, particularly year round ice-free access,” said retired British Vice Admiral Duncan Potts.
    Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014 allowed it to begin what one Western intelligence official described as the “creeping militarization” of the Black Sea.    Russia took over or sank many of Ukraine’s navy vessels stationed in the Black Sea port of Sebastopol.
    Russia’s military presence in Crimea and the modernization in recent years of key Russian naval fleets has “shifted the military balance in the Black Sea region in its favour,” said analyst Stephen Flanagan at the RAND Corporation think tank in the United States. Moscow currently has 18 major warships in the Black Sea, said Flanagan, giving it “a formidable force to conduct various operations against Ukraine.”
    Meanwhile, the presence of NATO warships in the Black Sea has fluctuated.    According to, U.S. naval forces spent around 180 days in the Black Sea last year, up from less than 60 days in 2016 but down from over 200 days in 2014.    Non-littoral NATO allies deployed 31 ships to the area in 2014, that dropped to 14 in 2016 before rising again to 31 last year, according to an independent database run by a Ukrainian think tank, the Monitoring Group of the Black Sea Institute of Strategic Studies and BlackSeaNews.
    The last big allied destroyer, the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke, left the Black Sea in December, according to a U.S. Navy statement.    Britain’s Royal Navy has not been to the Black Sea since last summer, according to
    NATO member Turkey does have a navy that operates in the Black Sea region. Other NATO allies – including the United States and France – currently have navy vessels in the Mediterranean.
    Ukraine relies heavily on its coastline for trade, with more than half of the country’s exports and imports traveling by sea.    The Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine’s busiest port and largest oil and gas terminal, came under missile attack on Thursday, regional authorities of Ukraine’s southern Odessa region said.
    Ukraine’s military on Thursday suspended commercial shipping at its ports after Russian forces invaded the country, an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff said.
    Even before Thursday’s attack, there had been a growing reluctance by companies to send ships to the area because of the increased Russian naval presence, the three shipping industry officials plus one other said.    That added to existing disruptions to trade caused by global supply chain issues, which has reduced the pool of available vessels willing to sail into the region.
    Shipping traffic had recently dropped.    The number of container ship arrivals to Ukrainian ports this month through Feb. 20 had fallen to 25 visits, down sharply from 48 visits during the month of January, according to data from ship tracking and intelligence provider MarineTraffic, which is based in Greece.
    Odessa had also seen the capacity of ships coming into the port more than halved.    For the first three weeks of February it was at 46,357 20-foot container units, down from 82,091 in January and 97,027 in December 2021, data from U.S. headquartered logistics platform project44 showed.
    Some diplomats say NATO should have already established a Black Sea maritime patrol mission.
    The lack of such a presence despite regular visits by U.S. warships has allowed Russia to declare large areas near the Romanian and Bulgarian coastlines off-limits for months at a time while Moscow conducts military maritime exercises, according to a senior Western military official.
    NATO is heavily dependent on member Turkey’s help; the other alliance members bordering the Black Sea – Bulgaria and Romania – have limited navies.
    Under the international Montreux Convention of 1936, Turkey has control over passage of vessels between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.    Ships from non-littoral states such as Britain and France, can only stay for 21 days at a time.    France has about three naval exercises in the Black Sea each year.
    But Turkey must balance Ankara’s strong diplomatic ties with Moscow and its obligations as a NATO ally.    Recent informal talks at NATO with Ankara over a possible maritime policing mission have gone nowhere, according to two Turkish government security sources and a NATO ambassador.
    “We are evaluating the situation to be prepared for every situation,” Turkey’s defence ministry told Reuters on Feb. 10.    NATO has previously declined to comment directly on the possibility of a Black sea policing mission.
    “NATO has one hand tied behind its back,” Paul Taylor, a European analyst at the Friends of Europe think tank, referring to Turkey’s reluctance to impose more control over the Black Sea.
(Refiles to add dropped word in fourth graf)
(Reporting by John Irish in Bucharest, Robin Emmott in Brussels and Jonathan Saul in London. Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold in Berlin, Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara, Phil Stewart in Washington. Editing by Cassell Bryan-Low)

2/25/2022 DOJ Ends Trump-Era China Initiative Program To Fight Espionage by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Matthew G. Olsen, of Maryland, nominee to be an Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice, attends a
Senate Judiciary Hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 14, 2021. The Justice Department is ending its China Initiative.
The move announced Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, by Assistant Attorney General Olsen amounts to a rebranding of a Trump-era
program that was created to crack down on economic espionage by Beijing but that critics said had unfairly scrutinized
Chinese professors on the basis of their ethnicity. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades, File)
    Joe Biden’s Justice Department ended a Trump-era program that countered Chinese espionage against the United States.    This week, the DOJ said the 45th president’s China Initiative was not broad enough and claimed it created a climate of fear among Asian Americans.
    The China program, launched by Donald Trump’s administration in 2018, was established to prevent China’s theft of U.S. trade secrets, hacking and undue influence on U.S. education as well as politics.
    However, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen seems more concerned it depicts the department as racist instead of keeping the focus on combating threats from the Chinese Communist Party.
    “But by grouping cases under the China Initiative rubric, we helped give rise to a harmful perception that the Department of Justice applies a lower standard to its investigation and prosecution of criminal conduct related to that country,” Olsen explained.    “Or that we in some way view people with racial, ethnic or familial ties to China differently.”
    The decision comes in response to a request by far-left activists who say the China initiative was “unfairly targeting Chinese culture and heritage.”    However, some national security experts are worried the pullback could threaten the ability for the U.S. government to counter some of the Chinese government’s activities in the states.

2/25/2022 Secy. Blinken Convinced Russia’s Putin Will Attempt To Overthrow Ukrainian Govt. by OAN Newsroom
Secretary of State Antony Blinken pauses as he speaks during a news conference with Ukraine’s Foreign
Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the State Department in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he’s convinced Russian President Vladamir Putin will attempt to overthrow Ukraine’s government.    In an interview Thursday, he said the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and several European partners will have an immediate impact on Russia’s currency and its markets.
    Blinken added, other options remain on the table if Russia continues to escalate its attacks.    The U.S. official said he’s not in a position to comment on events on the ground, but said NATO countries are prepared if Putin tries to go beyond Ukraine.
    “Is it a possibility that Putin goes beyond Ukraine?    Sure, it’s a possibility, but there’s something very powerful standing in the way of that,” Blinken stated.    “That’s something we call Article 5 of NATO.    That means an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all members of NATO. The President’s been very clear that we will defend every inch of NATO territory.    I think that’s the most powerful deterrent against President Putin going beyond Ukraine.”
    Blinken said that whether it’s in the short, median or long term, he’s convinced that democracy and the independence of Ukraine will prevail.
    Meanwhile, US F-35 fighter jets landed at a Romanian air base as part of NATO’s further bolstering of its eastern flank.    Trucks carrying military vehicles arrived Friday at a base near Constanta, a city at the black sea that is located around 100-miles from the Ukrainian border.
    On Thursday, NATO had ordered its military commanders to intensify their preparations to defend allied territories, putting hundreds of warplanes and ships on alert as well as agreeing to increase troop numbers on its eastern flank. An Air Force general said the aircraft deployment enhances NATO’s defensive posture and amplifies the alliance’s interoperability.

2/25/2022 EU Leaders Agree To Impose More Sanctions On Russia by OAN Newsroom
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a joint news conference with European Council President Charles Michel
ahead of the G7 summit, at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, June 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, Pool)
    European Union leaders agreed to impose new sanctions on Russia. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said they stand united in condemning Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
    The Bloc’s leaders met Thursday night and agreed on a package of targeted sanctions.    Von der Leyen said the sanctions will have the maximum impact on Russia’s economy and its political elite.
    “We are now targeting 70 percent of the Russian banking market, but also key state-owned companies including the field of defense,” she announced.    “These sanctions will increase Russia’s borrowing costs, raise inflation and gradually erode Russia’s industrial base.”
    Von der Leyen also said the EU will also curb exports to Russia to stop materials it needs for its oil refineries.    She added, the move would hurt Moscow’s oil sector and eventually deplete its oil refining revenue.

2/25/2022 Oil down $7.30 to $91.10, DOW up 808 to 34,032.

2/26/2022 U.S. Sanctions Russia’s Putin, Top Officials Over Ukraine Invasion by Andrea Shalal, Steve Holland and Daphne Psaledakis
FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives for a meeting with representatives of the business
community at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia February 24, 2022. Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Kremlin via REUTERS
    (Reuters) -The U.S. government on Friday joined European countries in slapping sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as Western nations sought to increase pressure on Moscow to halt its invasion of Ukraine.
    The rare but not unprecedented U.S. imposition of sanctions on a head of state came just a day after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, assaulting by land, sea and air in the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War Two.
    “President Putin and Minister Lavrov are directly responsible for Russia’s unprovoked and unlawful further invasion of Ukraine, a democratic sovereign state,” the Treasury Department said in a statement late on Friday announcing the sanctions.
    It said sanctions against a head of state were “exceedingly rare,” and put Putin on a short list that included the leaders of North Korea, Syria and Belarus.    Further actions could follow.
    White House spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters that President Joe Biden decided to target Putin, Lavrov and other officials after speaking by phone with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen earlier on Friday.
    Treasury said the moves built on a raft of other sanctions imposed this week that targeted Russian banks and rich oligarchs, cut Russia off from access to critical technologies, and restricted its ability to raise capital.
    Earlier on Friday, EU states and Britain agreed to freeze any European assets of Putin and Lavrov, as Ukraine’s leader pleaded for faster and more forceful sanctions to punish Russia’s invasion of his country.
    The imposition of sanctions against Putin and Lavrov reflect the West’s “absolute impotence” when it comes to foreign policy, RIA news agency cited a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman as saying on Friday.
    Edward Fishman, an Atlantic Council fellow who worked on Russia sanctions at the State Department during the Obama administration, said that while the sanctions on Putin are largely symbolic, targeting the Russian leader was a reasonable step for the United States and its partners to take.
    “It certainly sends a very strong message of solidarity with Ukrainians who are under fire right now,” Fishman said.
    The U.S. government also sanctioned two other senior Russian officials, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov, for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Treasury Department said.
    Psaki said on Twitter that the Treasury Department would also impose sanctions on the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which she described as a “state owned financial entity that functions as a sovereign wealth fund, which is supposed to attract capital into the Russian economy in high-growth sectors.”
    A Treasury spokesperson said the action against the Russian Direct Investment Fund would be in the coming days.
    “We are united with our international allies and partners to ensure Russia pays a severe economic and diplomatic price for its further invasion of Ukraine,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in statement.    “If necessary, we are prepared to impose further costs on Russia for its appalling behavior on the world stage.”
    Treasury, which has already designated 11 members of the Russian Security Council, said it would continue to target Russian elites for “their role in bankrolling Russia’s further aggression against Ukraine, empowering Putin or participating in Russia’s kleptocracy.”
    Putin urged Ukraine’s military to overthrow its political leaders and negotiate peace on Friday, as authorities in Kyiv called on citizens to help defend the capital from a Russian assault that its mayor said had already begun.
    The sanctions targeting Putin are the latest punitive action from Washington over Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
    The United States this week imposed sanctions on Russian banks, members of the elite, and the company in charge of building the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 undersea gas pipeline connecting Russia and Germany.
    Responding to reports that the U.S. government had ordered officials to stop most contacts with Russia, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the invasion of Ukraine had “fundamentally changed” Moscow’s relationship with Washington and other nations.
    Price told reporters that U.S. officials will continue to engage with their Russian counterparts on important national security issues, including the talks to return to a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Steve Holland, Daphne Psaledakis, Trevor Hunnicutt, Humeyra Pamuk, Simon Lewis and David Lawder in Washington, and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Tim Ahmann, Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)

2/26/2022 Macron Tells French Farmers: Ukraine War Will Weigh On You, And It Will Last
French President Emmanuel Macron gives a news conference at the end of a special meeting of the European Council in light
of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium, February 25, 2022. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS
    PARIS (Reuters) – The war in Ukraine, and heavy sanctions Western powers have taken against Russia, will have long-lasting and serious consequences for the French farming sector, the European Union’s biggest, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday.
    “If you ask me to share one conviction with you this morning, it is that this crisis is here to stay, this war is here to stay,” Macron told the Paris farm show on Saturday.
    Trade restrictions resulting from EU sanctions on Russia will weigh on French exports such as wine and grains, Macron said, while a further rise in energy prices will hit livestock farming.
    “We are building a resilience plan,” Macron said, adding measures would be taken to protect farmers from cost pressures and compensate lost revenues.
    A surge in commodity prices in the past year has benefited grain producers but squeezed livestock farmers for whom grain feed is a major cost.    The government announced at the end of January a 270 million euro ($304 million) relief package for the pork sector.
    The crisis in Ukraine is increasing volatility in agricultural markets, with Paris wheat futures hitting a record high on Thursday.    Farmers are also worried the crisis could exacerbate supply tensions in fertilisers and disrupt the spring growing season for crops.
    The annual Paris farm show, the Salon de l’Agriculture, is a major occasion in France and, coming less than two months before the first round of presidential elections, has drawn the major candidates.
    French commentators long expected Macron could use his presence at the show to officially announce he will be running for a second term, a fact nobody in France doubts.
    But international crises, above all Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, have thwarted the president’s calendar several times.
    While Macron spent over 12 hours at the Salon’s last edition in 2020, trying to reassure farmers over the impact of Brexit and a reform of the EU’s farm policy, he only spoke on Saturday for about 15 minutes.
($1 = 0.8875 euros)
(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel and Gus Trompiz; Editing by Mark Potter)

2/26/2022 Momentum Grows To Ban Russia From SWIFT Payment System
Swift logo is placed on a Russian flag are seen in this illustration taken,
Bosnia and Herzegovina, February 25, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Canada, the United States, Britain and the European Union on Friday said they could act to exclude Russia from the SWIFT global interbank payments system in a further round of sanctions aimed at halting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
    Such a move could happen in coming days after officials in two European countries that had voiced reservations – Germany and Italy – softened their opposition against kicking Russia out of the world’s main international payments network, U.S. and European officials said.
    Doing so would hit Russian trade and make it harder for Russian companies to do business.    SWIFT is a secure messaging system that facilitates rapid cross-border payments and is the principal mechanism for financing international trade.
    It would mark a further escalation of concerted sanctions imposed by Western powers against Russia this week, including rare sanctions aimed personally at Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday.
    Western powers are racing to ratchet up pressure on Moscow after Russian forces early on Thursday launched the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War Two.
    Earlier this week, sanctions were announced targeting Russian banks, oligarch and exports announced.
    Barring Russia from SWIFT could be part of a further round of sanctions, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said on Friday.
    Italy, which had been reluctant to take that step, on Friday said it would not veto proposals to ban Russia and pledged to continue working in unison with its EU partners.
    Germany, which has the EU’s biggest trade flows with Russia, is also open to banning Russia from SWIFT, but must calculate the consequences for its economy, Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on Friday.
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country strongly supported barring Russia from the system.    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on leaders of NATO member countries on Friday to take immediate action to remove Russia from SWIFT.
    EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said a decision on SWIFT could happen in the “coming days.”
    White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said removing Russia from SWIFT “remains an option on the table” and underscored President Joe Biden’s preference to take steps together with allies.
    Another U.S. official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said further Western sanctions were expected if the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, fell, something Western officials now believe could happen within days.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Leslie Adler)

2/26/2022 Poland, Lithuania And Germany To Discuss Sanctions On Russia On Saturday
FILE PHOTO: Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks to press as he arrives for an emergency
European Union (EU) summit at The European Council Building, on the situation in Ukraine
after Russia launched an invasion in Brussels, Belgium February 24, 2022. John Thys/Pool via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda will meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Saturday to discuss sanctions on Russia, Polish government spokesperson Piotr Muller said on Twitter.
    “At the initiative of Prime Minister Morawiecki a meeting will be held in Berlin today.    Prime Minister Morawiecki together with the President of Lithuania will hold talks with the German Chancellor,” Muller said in a tweet early on Saturday.
    “The European Union must immediately adopt a package of ruthlessly harsh sanctions against Russia.”
    Muller did not give the time of the meeting.
(Reporting by Alicja Ptak Editing by Mark Potter)

2/26/2022 Meta To Bar Russian State Media From Running Ads, Monetizing On Platform
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Facebook parent Meta is beneath a 3D-printed logo of Facebook on a laptop
keyboard in this illustration taken on November 2, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
    (Reuters) – Meta Platforms Inc is barring Russian state media from running ads or monetizing on its platform anywhere in the world, the parent company of social media giant Facebook said on Friday.
    “We also continue to apply labels to additional Russian state media,” its security policy head, Nathaniel Gleicher, said on Twitter.    “These changes have already begun rolling out and will continue into the weekend.”
    He added, “We are now prohibiting Russian state media from running ads or monetizing on our platform anywhere in the world.”
(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru and Elizabeth Culliford in New York; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

2/26/2022 Biden Approves $350 Million In Military Aid For Ukraine
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the
East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden instructed the U.S. State Department to release $350 million in military aid to Ukraine on Friday as it struggles to repulse a Russian invasion.
    In a memorandum to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Biden directed that $350 million allocated through the Foreign Assistance Act be designated for Ukraine’s defense.
(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by William Mallard)

2/26/2022 No Oil or DOW info.

2/28/2022 Europe And Canada Move To Close Skies To Russian Planes by Allison Lampert and David Shepardson
FILE PHOTO: A view shows the first Airbus A350-900 aircraft of Russia's flagship airline Aeroflot during a media presentation
at Sheremetyevo International Airport outside Moscow, Russia March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo
    (Reuters) - European nations and Canada moved on Sunday to shut their airspace to Russian aircraft, an unprecedented step aimed at pressuring President Vladimir Putin to end his invasion of Ukraine, the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.
    Aeroflot said it would cancel all flights to European destinations after E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the European Union had decided to close its airspace to Russian traffic.
    The United States is considering similar action, but has yet to make a final decision, according to U.S. officials.    The U.S. government said citizens should consider leaving Russia immediately on commercial flights, citing an increasing number of airlines cancelling flights as countries closed their airspace to Russia.
    The ban on Russian jets comes as the airline industry continues to grapple with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic that is still undermining global demand for travel.
    Germany, Spain and France joined Britain, the Nordics and Baltic states in declaring bans on Russian use of their airspace, a major escalation in a tactic by mostly NATO allies to wage economic war against Putin in retaliation for the invasion.
    The West, led by the United States, also unveiled sweeping new financial sanctions on Russia.
    Russia is now widely expected to retaliate further against the air blockades and other sanctions.    It has already responded to the earliest European airspace bans with its own edicts barring airlines from Britain, Bulgaria and Poland.
    Without access to Russia’s airways, experts say carriers will have to divert flights south while also avoiding areas of tension in the Middle East.
    A reciprocal airspace ban by Russia and the United States would cause longer flight times for U.S. carriers and could require crew changes on East Coast routes to Asia, said U.S.-based analyst Robert Mann of R.W. Mann & Company, Inc.
    It could make certain flights too costly to operate for U.S. carriers.    “It would just add a lot of expense,” he said.
    “France is shutting its airspace to all Russian aircraft and airlines from this evening on,” French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said in a Twitter post, an announcement echoed across continental Europe.
    Air France-KLM said it is suspending flights to and from Russia as well as the overflight of Russian airspace until further notice as of Sunday.
    The closure of European airspace to Russian airlines and vice versa had immediate impacts on global aviation.
    Air France said it was temporarily suspending flights to and from China, Korea and Japan, while it studied flight plan options to avoid Russian airspace.
    Finnair said it would cancel flights to Russia, Japan, South Korea and China through March 6 as it avoided Russian airspace, though flights to Singapore, Thailand and India would continue with an added hour of flight time.
    If U.S. airlines were barred from Russian airspace, it would lengthen some international flights and some would likely be forced to refuel in Anchorage, industry sources told Reuters.    The flights that could be impacted include U.S. flights to India, China, Japan and Korea, the sources said.
    The White House National Security Council declined to comment on whether the United States will close its skies to Russia and referred questions to the Federal Aviation Administration, which did not immediately comment.
    Swiss International Air Lines, a unit of Germany’s Lufthansa     Canada also said it had shut its airspace to Russian aircraft effective immediately.
    A spokesperson for Canada’s transport minister said there are no direct flights between Russia and Canada, but several Russian flights a day pass through Canadian airspace.
    An Aeroflot flight from Miami to Moscow passed through Canadian airspace on Sunday after the ban was announced, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.
    A spokesperson for Canada’s transport minister said air traffic control manager NAV Canada had mistakenly permitted a banned aircraft into Canadian airspace and steps were being taken to ensure it did not happen again.
    The aviation sanctions also spell disruption for logistics companies and the mainly Ireland-based aircraft leasing industry.
    U.S.-based United Parcel Service Inc and FedEx Corp, two of the world’s largest logistics companies, have said they are halting deliveries to destinations in Russia.    It was unclear whether both firms continue to use Russian airspace as part of their general operations.    Neither responded immediately to requests for comment.
    Airfinance Journal reported EU-based lessors would be given until March 28 to wind down deals with Russian airlines – a setback for the industry after Russian carriers were seen as more reliable performers on jet rental agreements than many global carriers during the pandemic.
    Russian companies have 980 passenger jets in service, of which 777 are leased, according to analytics firm Cirium.    Of these, two thirds, or 515 jets, with an estimated market value of about $10 billion, are rented from foreign firms.
(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washingon, D.C.; Jessica Jones in Madrid; Denny Thomas in Toronto, Allison Lampert in Montreal and Jamie Freed in Sydney; Writing by Mark Bendeich and Anna Driver; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Daniel Wallis and Michael Perry)

2/28/2022 Analysis-Is WHO’s Aim To Vaccinate 70% Of World By June Still Realistic? by Jennifer Rigby
    FILE PHOTO: Workers load a truck with 350,000 doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines, redeployed from the Democratic Republic of Congo, at the
Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, May 7, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
    LONDON (Reuters) – Vaccinating 70% of the population in every country in the world against COVID-19 by mid-2022 has been the World Health Organization’s (WHO) rallying cry to end the pandemic.
    But recently, public health experts say that while boosting immunity globally remains essential, the figure is neither achievable nor meaningful.
    It has always been ambitious: Currently, just 12% of people in low-income nations have had one shot, according to Our World In Data.    Earlier targets set by WHO – to reach 10% by September 2021, for example – were also missed.
    WHO head of immunization Kate O’Brien said 70% remained more than just a “rallying cry,” even though some well-equipped countries with plenty of vaccines have also struggled to reach it.
    “We are calling for countries to be serious about their actions towards achieving that target, while acknowledging that – on a country-by-country basis – there may be a rationale why that target is not specifically suited to that country,” she told Reuters.
    Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance – WHO’s partner in the COVAX initiative aimed at getting shots to the world’s poorest – has pulled back from the “one-size-fits-all” 70% focus.
    At a virtual briefing last week with WHO Africa, Aurelia Nguyen, managing director of COVAX within Gavi, said it was important to instead “meet the targets that countries have set for themselves, whether it’s in line with the 70% WHO target or a lower or a higher target.”
    Reservations about the 70% target are a further sign that ending the pandemic globally may be a trickier, and longer, challenge than many had hoped.
    Documents from a high-level internal UN meeting held earlier this month, reviewed by Reuters, showed eight countries that were extremely unlikely to reach the target by June 2022, and had been identified for “immediate focus”: Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Sudan.
    A further 26, including Yemen, Uganda and Haiti, are also in need of “concerted support,” the document said.
    However, there is a bigger issue the WHO is focusing on O’Brien said.
    “The question in the here and now, with Omicron ripping through the population around the world and continuing to do that … does 70% still hold?” she said.
    The figure was never a “magic number,” she said, but just an assessment of risk, something to aim for that could – optimistically – keep the virus under control.
    But new evidence showing that the vaccines only have a limited impact on transmission, alongside the ability of the Omicron variant to infect previously vaccinated or infected people, suggests that achieving that level of population immunity and therefore stopping the spread of the virus is a fading hope.
    “We are in the process of looking at scenarios of how the pandemic might play out,” O’Brien said.
    “Obviously across the scenarios, the role of the vaccines, the target of the 70%, the goal of transmission reduction, would have to be evaluated.”
    For example, setting higher targets among at-risk groups may be important to prevent hospitalisations and deaths, she added.
    But some public health experts said the initial target was now largely symbolic.
    Edward Kelley, former director of health services at WHO and now global health officer at ApiJect, said the 70% had been based on what science said was needed to manage transmission, which had been blown out of the water by Omicron.
    “Of course we need to continue to raise immunity levels everywhere,”, he said.    “But the target is being kept at the moment because the international community does not have anything else to cling to.”
(Reporting by Jennifer Rigby; Additional reporting by Francesco Guarascio, Alexander Winning and Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Josephine Mason and Aurora Ellis)

2/28/2022 Canada Says Russian Airline Aeroflot Violated Its Airspace
FILE PHOTO: An airplane takes off from Billy Bishop Airport after Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
announced that passengers will require COVID-19 vaccination for air, ship and interprovincial
train services, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 6, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio/File Photo
    TORONTO (Reuters) - Russian airline Aeroflot on Sunday violated a ban on aircraft from the country using Canadian airspace, regulator Transport Canada said, on the same day the restriction was imposed in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
    “We are aware that Aeroflot Flight 111 violated the prohibition put in place earlier today on Russian flights using Canadian airspace,” Transport Canada said in a tweet late on Sunday.
    Flight 111 travels from Miami, Florida to Moscow and took off at 15:12 ET, according to FlightRadar24.
    There are no direct flights between Russia and Canada, but several Russian flights a day have until now passed through Canadian airspace to other countries, a spokesperson for Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said.
    Transport Canada said it will launch a review into the conduct of Aeroflot and Canada’s air-traffic control service provider Nav Canada following the violation.
    “We will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action and other measures to prevent future violations,” the Canadian regulator said.
    Nav Canada confirmed to Reuters that Aeroflot did enter the Canadian airspace.    It said the aircraft operator declared the flight as a humanitarian flight as it entered the domestic airspace which requires special handling by air traffic control under normal circumstances.
    “We are currently cooperating with Transport Canada to investigate the occurrence, and are working with neighbouring Air Navigation Service Providers to support rerouting of aircraft prior to them entering Canadian-controlled airspace,” Nav Canada said.
    Aeroflot did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
    Minister Alghabra announced at 0900 ET on Sunday that Canada would close its airspace to Russian aircraft operators following similar measures from other countries.
    “We will hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked attacks against Ukraine,” transport minister Alghabra wrote in a Twitter post.
    Britain has banned Aeroflot from entering British airspace.    Poland and the Czech Republic also said they were banning Russian airlines from their airspace, while airlines including IAG-owned British Airways and Virgin Atlantic began routing flights around Russian airspace.
    Canada has imposed severe sanctions on Russia, targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in tandem with the United States.
    Canada was also part of a Western alliance that blocked “selected” Russian banks from the SWIFT payments system on Saturday.
(Reporting by Denny Thomas and Ann Maria Shibu; Additional reporting by Jose Joseph ; Editing by Will Dunham, Kenneth Maxwell and Michael Perry)

2/28/2022 Putin Forces Germany To Step Up To Role As Global Power by Sarah Marsh and Sabine Siebold
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends an extraordinary session, after Russia launched a massive military operation against
Ukraine, at the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi
    BERLIN (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has inadvertently achieved what Western allies have long struggled to: get Germany to step up to its role as a major global power with an assertive foreign policy backed by a strong military despite its World War guilt.
    German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Sunday a dramatic hike in military spending in view of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in what is being heralded as a historic speech that marks a paradigm shift in German foreign and defence policy.
    Scholz said Germany from now on would invest more than 2% of economic output on defence up from around 1.5 % currently, after years of resisting pleas from NATO allies to do so, and set up a 100-billion-euro ($112 billion) fund to re-equip the military.
    He also outlined plans to reduce Germany’s dependence on Russia for half its gas needs, fomenting hopes Berlin could consider geo-strategic concerns more in all its trade relations.
    “Putin’s war” marked a break in German foreign policy, he said, adding “the requirement is as much diplomacy as possible without being naive.”
    “This historic speech marks a sea change in German foreign policy,” said Thorsten Benner of the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi).    “It’s a starting point for a further fundamental re-think as part of Germany’s National Security Strategy that will also have to include challenges posed by China seen in tandem with Russia.”
    Germany has for decades faced criticism for not playing a role on the world stage commensurate with its size as Europe’s largest economy and overlooking geo-strategic concerns in its pursuit of economic opportunities.
    That stance came under intense scrutiny throughout the Ukraine crisis, leading some commentators, especially in top security ally the United States, to call Germany the weak link in the NATO western military alliance.
    Successive German governments supported the construction of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic pipeline to pump gas from Russia directly to Germany despite Western allies’ concerns it would undermine the security of traditional transit country Ukraine.
    Berlin also last week resisted calls to cut Russia off the SWIFT global payments system as part of a Western sanctions package, saying it would then struggle to pay for Russian gas.
    In a 180 degree turnaround, Scholz last Tuesday suspended Nord Stream 2 and on Saturday agreed to cut Russia out of SWIFT and said Germany would build up its coal and gas reserves and quickly make good on long-stalled plans to built LNG terminals.
    Most policy shifts came after on Friday “it became more obvious what Putin had done, and that we have to leave the old ways,” a highly-placed German government source told Reuters.
    “Saturday was also the moment when we and others in the European Union realized we have to do something on SWIFT because it became such a symbol,” the source said.
    Germany’s military had long pleaded for more equipment and the army chief vented his frustration over the long-running neglect of military readiness on LinkedIn on Thursday a few hours after Russia invaded Ukraine.
    German forces were drastically scaled down after the end of the Cold War – with the number of battle tanks drawn down from more than 3,500 in the 1980s to 225 in 2015.
    Later the forces were trained mainly for missions such as in Afghanistan where the adversary was poorly equipped and not an armed force with the most modern>     Germany’s new three-way coalition vowed when it took office in December to pursue a more values-based foreign policy reflecting growing anxiety over the rise in authoritarianism worldwide and threats posed by strategic rivals like China.
    However the coalition – which includes the Greens, borne out of the pacifist movement of the 1960s, and fiscally hawkish Free Democrats – did not commit to increasing defence spending to back up a more assertive foreign policy.
    It also came under fire in recent weeks for refusing to deliver weapons to Ukraine given a German taboo on exporting arms to conflict zones.
    All that changed too this weekend.
    On Saturday Scholz said Germany would supply Ukraine with 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger surface-to-air missiles from its military>     On Sunday he announced a 100-billion-euro new fund – worth twice last year’s annual defence budget – to modernize its military, including to buy armed drones and new fighter jets.
    “It is clear that we need to invest significantly more in the security of our country in order to protect our freedom and our democracy,” he told an emergency session of the Bundestag lower house of parliament.
    “We need planes that fly, ships that sail, and soldiers who are optimally equipped for their missions.”
    Terry Anderson, who served as the U.S. defence attache in Berlin from June 2015 through July 2018, said the Russian invasion was clearly a “humongous wake-up call.”
    “They put so much stock in talking.    But you know diplomacy without teeth behind it is not going to be effective,” he said.
    Tyson Barker, head of Technology and Global Affairs at the German Council on Foreign Relations, said: "Germany just became a normal power
($1 = 0.8948 euros)
(Reporting by Sarah Marsh and Sabine Siebold in Berlin, Additional Reporting by Andreas Rinke in Berlin and Andrea Shalal in Washington; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

2/28/2022 Japan’s Sanctions To Help Impose Massive Costs On Russia, U.S. Says
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference at the
State Department in Washington, U.S., February 22, 2022. Carolyn Kaster/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Japan’s financial sanctions against Russia, together with those of other allies and partners, would help impose massive costs on Russia and thwart its ability to wage its war on Ukraine, according to a U.S. State Department statement.
    “We reaffirmed that we have never been more fully aligned across the globe to defend and preserve the freedom and sovereignty of Ukraine and all states,” the department quoted Blinken as saying in a call with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and other G7 leaders.
(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; editing by Grant McCool)

2/28/2022 Congress Ditches Mask Mandate Ahead Of Biden’s Address, GOP Denounce Requirement As Political Theater by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this May 19, 2021, file photo House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., takes off her face
mask to talk to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) Read Less
    The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives lifted its mask mandate ahead of Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.    The Office of the Attending Physician said lawmakers and their staff will no longer have to wear face masks due to a “low level” of COVID transmission.    However, those who test positive for COVID or have symptoms are still advised to wear masks.
    Republicans have denounced mask mandates as “political theatre,” adding Democrats are ditching masks to make Biden’s address look good.    This comes as the Capitol Physician’s Office also promoted coronavirus vaccines, boosters and taking daily COVID tests at home.
    Meanwhile, Capitol Police reinstalled the inner-perimeter fencing around the Capitol Building ahead of Biden’s State of the Union address.    Chief Tom Manger shared a statement Sunday, saying the increased security measures were made in collaboration with the Secret Service.
    Chief Manger also said the move is out of an abundance of caution ahead of The People’s Convoy, which is expected to descend on Washington, D.C. several days after Biden’s address.    Other security measures include establishing National Guard checkpoints around the city.    Capitol Police assert the heightened security is to ensure the important work of Congress is allowed to go on uninterrupted.

2/28/2022 Rep. Cheney Urges More U.S. Interventions In Conflict Abroad, Says GOP Isolationists ‘Wrong’ & ‘Dangerous’ by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks at Saint Anselm College, on Nov. 9, 2021, in Manchester, N.H. Wyoming lawmakers voted
narrowly Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, to consider a Donald Trump-backed bill that could affect Cheney’s re-election
chances by making it harder for voters to register as Republicans ahead of this summer’s primary. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm, File)
    Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) recently suggested America should increase participation in international conflicts.    In an interview Sunday, the Wyoming lawmaker claimed the “isolationist” movement in the Republican Party is “wrong” and “dangerous.”
    Cheney also asserted that U.S. “freedom” and “security” could only be ensured through participation in conflicts abroad while citing the crisis in Ukraine as an example.    This comes as polling shows the majority of Americans do not want major U.S. involvement in Ukraine.    However, Cheney claimed intervention could be beneficial despite Joe Biden’s poor handling of foreign affairs.
    “The idea that the world will be safe and that America will be able to be safe and free with an isolationist approach is wrong,” stated the Republican congresswoman.    “It’s also wrong morally.    You know, America stands for freedom.    America was founded on fundamental principles of freedom.    And I think it’s indefensible for people to abandon those or suggest that we have no view as between Russia and Ukraine in this battle.”
    Russian President Vladimir Putin warned third-party countries against trying to intervene with the military operation in Ukraine while threatening such attempts will cause grave consequences.

2/28/2022 Sen. Portman Says World Is More United Amid Collective Support For Ukraine by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Nov. 28, 2017 file photo, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio discusses his support for the GOP tax
bill during a TV news interview on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
    GOP Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said the world has never been as united as it is today amid the worldwide collective support for Ukraine and its sovereignty.
    “The world’s standing up in ways, frankly, I haven’t seen this kind of unity since 9/11,” he stated.    “:And I think that is something that will in the end be very helpful.”
    During an interview Sunday, the Republican lawmaker, who is also a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, expressed that the West needs to provide more military assistance to Ukraine and tighten up sanctions even further.    He went on to warn Ukraine to be cautious about talks with Russia near the Belarusian border as they are Russian allies.
    “They need to be careful,” said Portman.    “By the way Belarus is where the Russians wanted to have the meeting.    Belarus is now under control of Russia and Belarus is aiding and abetting the Russians attack on their neighbor Ukraine, so it’s outrageous.    Our hearts go out to the Ukrainian people today, this is something where the American people are standing firmly with Ukraine.”
    Portman attended a rally in support of Ukraine and gave remarks at a community prayer service on Sunday evening.

2/28/2022 Oil up $3.78 to $95.69, DOW down 839 to 34,058.

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